Acts 11:19-26 ~ Today's New International Version
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 News of this reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
9 years ago, a major news network ran a series of articles on Christians being courted and praised by major corporations for being interested in animal conditions, interested in recycling & being green and the insurance industry loved insuring Christians because fewer claims led to profitably. 5 years ago, the same major news network had a survey saying Christians are the ones supporting torture for war prisoners.
Part of the problem is the New Testament, I heard about this in an orthodox Bible study. Apparently, the Old Testament has sinners and sins, but Jesus lived on the earth and gave us the Holy Spirit, so in the New Testament – even in this passage – it’s all about good news and good men. Let’s be clear…. this perception is wrong.
What is true, yesterday, today and tomorrow is that man needs the Savior Jesus Christ. Clearly, the Bible tells us our need for love in a difficult world and then salvation given as a gift. But first, we need to brush away the cobwebs telling us good men don’t have problems and are so squeaky clean no one can relate to them. The same cobwebs tell us the men of the New Testament went on joy rides wearing a halo, born with a bishop’s hat, long hair (looking so unruffled that they look stuffed) and getting hoards of people to join up.
One of the reasons my father didn’t attend church was told to me, one time, he said he just didn’t compare to the men leading the good lives of the men in Church. This is where we are seeing a polarization between the saved and the seeking. If the saved cannot have compassion for the lost lamb, why would the lost lamb seek to be found?
We should look at the men of the New Testament, but it’s plain out of fashion to be interested in the saints. But, hey, these men point out that they had problems, too, and they still looked to Jesus. We don’t have to see these men as stuffed icons. These men had miscommunication with other good men, wives that traveled with them, problems of popularity and isolation, friendships were both blessing and bain, outside work issues, Christianity issues, law enforcement issues, confusion issues in direction, conformity and hypocrisy. And another huge issue, safety issues.
This was not the life of iconic saints riding on a sanitized cloud. But thanks to God, these men had days/weeks/years of seeing unsurpassed blessing. Barnabas’ name means son of Encouragement. This amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit gave love worth passing on.
Our Father who art in Heaven
Holy is Your name
Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will be done
on earth as in Heaven.
Give us this day
our daily bread
forgive me my sins
as i forgive those who sin against me
Lead me not into temptation
deliver me from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.