Son of Encouragement (Part 2)
The Jerusalem Church was at shock! One of their former persecutor, Saul, suddenly returns to Jerusalem, and now, eagerly waiting to meet with the apostles and the elders of the church. Three years ago, they have heard the conversion story of Saul; how he saw the vision of Christ that leads him to embrace the Christian faith. After his conversion, they also heard how Saul actively spread the gospel with such vigor until the Jewish Community in Damascus conspire to kill him. Instead of embracing such news with gladness and thanksgiving, the Jerusalem Church remain skeptic toward Saul’s conversion. They remember clearly Saul’s vigorous persecution that divides the church and drives them away from Jerusalem. Such memories leads to strong prejudiced and suspicion that is difficult to erase, and as Saul tried to join with the Christian community at Jerusalem, “they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple” (Acts 9:26 NIV).
Have you ever behaved like the Jerusalem Church? Have you ever looked at fellow Christians and doubted their conversion? Have you ever been blinded with prejudice and suspicion?
We all know that we can’t judge a book by its cover, but its always so tempting to measure someone by the stories you heard about them. It is so so easy to look at somebody and gives a quick presumption concerning how appearance reflect their character. As a Christian, we tend to judge people by our standards and histories, and once they did not fit into our expectations, we prefer to keep them on the sides.
But then, Barnabas refused to join the hate party. He knew that Christ’s followers should not judge someone based on their expectations, but on God’s grace. And you know what Barnabas did? “He took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:27 NIV).
Did you notice the three verbs that Luke used to describe what Barnabas do? “He took him,” “brought him,” and “he told them”…..From these three verbs, it is clear that Barnabas put his reputation in line to vouch for Saul. He saw Christ in Saul, and he knew that Saul need his support. When everybody doubted Saul, Barnabas trusted him.
Why is Barnabas able to do that?
Because he knew everyone need a second chance. He knew that without a gentle guiding hands, Saul will never be accepted and recognized by the Jerusalem Church.
Now, who is “Saul” in your church? Who is the person who got neglected and sideline? Go to them, and do what Barnabas did to Saul.