Barnabas sees people seeking God. Although originally suspicious outsiders whom he is sent to investigate, he sees the Spirit at work and sets to work encouraging and empowering them. According to the text Barnabas sees so much potential in the people at Antioch that he seeks out the premier teacher of the Gentiles for them and decides to stay a while to continue encouraging the new Christians.
Jesus, on the other hand, sees people who hunger for spectacle or self-righteousness. He wastes no time encouraging them.
What do we learn from the juxtaposition of these two stories? Can we see the grace of God at work in people outside of our normal circles? Are we willing to go out of our way to encourage and teach those who seek God? Do we fall prey to spending time proving ourselves to people who seek to disprove our value or do we, like Jesus, dismiss their questions? Do we believe that God’s grace can reach all nations and watch to see God at work? Do we rejoice at the diverse ways that God works in our world? Are we ready to step in to encourage and invest in those who seek God?
Do we allow ourselves to instead spend our limited time defending ourselves from those who do not want to learn and grow? Do we regularly pray for wisdom to see God’s grace at work and pray for wisdom to respond appropriately?
May we all become more like Barnabas and Jesus. May all nations praise the Lord.
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