The early church began as a gathering of people – a movement centered around the person of Jesus Christ – the risen Christ…the Son of the Living God. They lived out the message of Jesus in every aspect of their daily lives – in their work, in their home lives, with their neighbors. The people were the church. Throughout this series, we will take a look at some of the people who made up the early church and how they made every effort to BE the church to the world around them. This week we will take a look at Barnabas.
Read Acts 4:36-37 “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
What’s in a name? Well, a lot is in a name actually. As we begin to explore a few characters of the bible in these next few weeks, we will discover that we may be able to identify with many of these names in one way or another. I am especially fond of this first character – Barnabas. Learning about Barnabas has helped me to understand a part of myself in a more meaningful way. As you can see with this very first verse, Barnabas was not always his name. His birth name was Joseph, but his friends, the apostles, changed his name to Barnabas. They changed his name because his new name identified his character and purpose. Barnabas was an encourager. He pops up time and time again throughout the bible as he encourages Paul and others through some challenging times. His encouragement equipped others to persevere when they felt like giving up. His encouragement provided reminders of the purpose of their mission, and offered hope when all hope felt lost. And, notice how he sold a field that was his but then generously gave the money to the apostles, his friends.
As we kick off our study of some people in the bible, we begin with someone who is lesser known. Barnabas is not a main character by any means, but that does not mean he was of lesser importance. I can relate to Barnabas. Through learning about the importance of his role in the bible story, I have come to embrace the importance of being an encourager to people in my own life. I am reminded that I don’t need to be the main character and, like Barnabas, I may be called to be the one to encourage. Perhaps you are called to be a Barnabus to someone today. Perhaps someone in your life needs encouragement. Spend a few moments today thinking of people who have walked alongside you as an encourager. Spend a few moments thinking of ways that you can be an encourager to someone today. Being an encourager is of great importance and significance as we see with our new friend, Barnabas.