Summary: Making a church a place people yearn to be
Last week I asked you to consider how you might finish the statement, I Like Church But,….. The question was intended make you look at the simple problems in the church, the things that tend to irritate us. The kind of things that an outsider might find a roadblock to Jesus Christ. I hope that I never have to explain to God Why I, or something I did, was a road block separating anyone from Jesus Christ and Salvation. God, is protective of his children.
The Question last week was to motivate you to resolve the issues with the intent of making our church a place people yearn to be.
This church at Antioch became the place where God was moving. It seems that Jerusalem activity had slowed. We don’t know of a reason or excuse. All we know is that the Jews that left there, years ago, testified about the Good News. They shared their experiences especially the blessings and people responded and God’s hand was on them in Antioch. In Antioch the Good news was shared not just with the Jews, but also the Gentiles.
Antioch became the place that God moved and the Church grew, in a way it replaced Jerusalem. All because people could not keep their mouths shut.
This week I want to pickup their and move forwarding the text. The news of stuff happening in Antioch gets back to the apostles in Jerusalem. They talk it over and decide that someone needs to go over there and see what they are up to. The church leaders send Barnabas to find out what is going on.
I wonder why Peter or some other apostle doesn’t volunteer or one selected to make the trip. It seems like they decide to send Apostle light, Barnabas, to check things out. Maybe, they are afraid of what is really going on. Perhaps they are worried that these people are not what they claim to be.
Are these Church leaders threatened by success?
Barnabas is sent to spy on these foreigners and perhaps try to squash the new movement.
From the scripture, I don’t think so. The scripture says it this way, “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”
Barnabas gets there and he finds that something is going on. He sees evidence of the grace of God.
Evidence seems like an interesting word to me.
Renee will tell you that I watch a lot of Law and Order on TV. On the show they are always talking about evidence. The first half of the show always starts with the detectives being sent to a crime scene. They are looking for physical evidence and talking to witnesses about what happened, what did they see and do. Sometimes the evidence is thrown out as being invalid and the information never gets to court.
When Barnabas arrives on the scene he is looking for evidence. He is not disappointed or threatened by what he sees he is glad.
I believe that he arrived looking for signs that something would be there to solve the mystery they heard about. He did not go with his mind already made up. He went as a detective with an open mind.
When Barnabas arrives, what evidence do you think he found?
• I think he found people sharing true testimony.
• He found people telling accurate facts abut he good news of Jesus Christ.
• I think he found people that did not limit the grace of God by deciding who should receive the good news. (Gentile or Jew)
• I believe that he found a group of believers that had received the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
Barnabas knew the real thing when he saw it.
What he found was Vival, the exciting time when God first moves in the life of the church or an individual. You can never really have Vival twice. Today we are always seeking vival again … we call it Re-VIVAL. I constantly pray that we will be swept away by a movement of God. I hope that you do as well.
I don’t think that Barnabas was sent to squash the church, or to take over the church and control what was happening there. I believe that Barnabas was going in the role of teacher and encourager. Barnabas has a reputation as a person that can make things happen, like bringing people together. (The story about Barnabas introducing Saul/Paul to the apostles is a good example.) He seems to have had several gifts. Barnabas was a nick name, His real name is Joseph, but everybody called him Barnabas, son of encouragement.
Barnabas had several attributes that made him perfect for the Job. He was raised in a Greek culture. He spoke the language. He was a Jew and yet he had a heart for the gentiles. Barnabas was a man that wanted to be where God was working and do all he could.