Summary: This message calls for Christian Disciples to answer the "Call to Be a Barnabas" by being instruments of encouragement in the lives of others through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
CALLED TO BE A BARNABAS
--ACTS 4:36-38; and II CORINTHIAS 1:3-7
Charles Swindoll shares this story in an issue of Leadership magazine: “On May 24, 1965, a thirteen-and-a half-foot boat quietly slipped out of the marina at Falmouth, Massachusetts, for Falmouth, England. It would be the smallest craft ever to make the voyage. Its name? Tinkerbelle. It’s pilot? Robert Manry, a copy editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who felt ten years at the desk was enough boredom for a while, so he took a leave of absence to fulfill his secret dream.
“Manry was afraid, not of the ocean, but of all those people who would try to talk him out of the trip. So he didn’t share it with many, just some relatives and especially his wife, Virginia. She was his greatest source of support.
“The trip? Anything but pleasant. He spent sleepless nights trying to cross shipping lanes without getting run down and sunk. Weeks at sea caused his food to become tasteless. Loneliness, that age-old monster of the deep, led to terrifying hallucinations. His rudder broke three times. Storms swept him overboard, and had it not been for the rope he had knotted around his waist, he would never have been able to pull himself back on board. Finally, after seventy-eight days alone at sea, he sailed into Falmouth, England.
“During those nights at the tiller, he had fantasized about what he would do once he arrived. He expected simply to check into a hotel, eat dinner alone, then the next morning see if, perhaps, the Associated Press might be interested in his story. Was he in for a surprise!
“Word of his approach had spread far and wide. To his amazement, three hundred vessels, with horns blasting, escorted Tinkerbelle into port. Forty thousand people stood screaming and cheering him to shore. Robert Manry, copy editor turned dream, became an overnight hero.
“His story has been told around the world. But Robert couldn’t have done it alone. Standing on the dock was an even greater hero: Virginia. Refusing to be rigid when Robert’s dream was taking shape, she allowed him freedom to pursue his dream” [--Charles R. Swindoll in Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 4.].
We need an infinite amount of Virginia’s in the Church of Jesus Christ today—men, women, boys, and girls who will answer God’s call to be encouragers of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Indeed you and I are each “Called to Be a Barnabas” in the Church of 2004. Barnabas was always an encourager of the weak, the persecuted, the
“down and out,” the underdog, those who were rejected by the “in crowd” of the First Century Church. We are first introduced to him in Acts 4:36-38, “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 apostle’s feet.” The apostles changed this Levite’s name from Joseph to Barnabas “which means son of Encouragement,” and Barnabas always lived up to his name in his ministry, for he was always encouraging others who were having hard times.
We first see him encouraging Saul of Tarsus soon after his conversion on the road to Damascus. Saul had persecuted the Church. According to Acts, Chapter nine Christians were afraid of him and refused to accept him “when he came to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples.” They did not believe “that he really was a disciple.” Then Barnabas steps in the picture in Acts 9:27, “But Barnabas 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.” The apostles in Jerusalem accepted the preaching of a converted Saul because of the ministry of encouragement by Barnabas.
We remember another young man Barnabas encouraged by the name of John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark. This young man went by two names; his Hebrew name of John and his Roman or Latin name of Mark. He soon dropped the Hebrew name and went solely by his Latin one. Mark, when we first meet him, is a cowardly “Mama’s boy.” He was the son of one influential woman in Jerusalem by the name of Mary. It was at her home that the all night prayer vigil for an imprisoned Peter took place in Acts Chapters 12 and 13. However, we most likely meet Mark for the first time in Chapter 14 of his Gospel at the arrest of Jesus. Listen to that account: “Then everyone deserted Him and fled. A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind” [--Mark 14:50-2]. That naked young man who fled from the authorities when Jesus was arrested was most likely Mark himself.