By Tom Atema
Huge shifts are occurring in our culture. Godly influence is declining across the land. We see it slipping away before us in many key spheres of life: government, business, media, education, sports, church, and even in the home!
In Acts chapter 4 we meet Barnabas. Through Barnabas we have a picture of a life that modeled influencing for good. Barnabas shows us, rather than telling us, how to love in a way that is natural and unapologetic. Barnabas was an ordinary, everyday believer who modeled how to influence the world for Christ from right where you are. Barnabas lived out truth through love in a way we can all copy.
Let me list a few ways Barnabas used his influence:
- The name Barnabas means — encouragement and Barnabas had a reputation that reflected his name. When people met Barnabas, he put a spring in their step, a smile on their face, and hope in one’s heart. “Mr. Encouragement” influenced with his natural gifts and talents. Encouragement expresses God’s love to a discouraged world.
- When Barnabas met Saul—who had become a fervent follower of Christ – Barnabas took the then-unknown disciple under his wing and introduced him to the other apostles in Jerusalem. These other apostles were afraid because of Saul/Paul’s past actions, but Barnabas used his influence and vouched for him, and because of this, the new convert “stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.”
- Without Barnabas we would not have the book of Mark.
There are a dozen other ways Barnabas used his influence and here’s one that affects us today:
- Barnabas had some financial resources. He was not married, had no children. He sold his field, and I can imagine he asked himself, “How much shall I give to the poor?” He decided not to give merely 10% (or even 50%) — but the original language indicates that he gave it all, 100% to aid the poor in Jerusalem.
Why? The church in Jerusalem was growing rapidly and believers were being added to the church daily. (This reads like what is happening in Lebanon!) Because thousands of visitors were in Jerusalem at the time, there was need for material help in caring for the multitudes of people. Barnabas had land, and he decided to sell it, and give the total amount of money to the Apostles to be used as needed. Barnabas was a generous giver, and willing to give to help meet the needs of the early church. This was an indication of his deep love for the Lord, and his faith in the people who led and made up the church.
Today, we know what that financial investment made by Barnabas has and is accomplishing. The church at Antioch played a crucial role in the book of Acts. It’s here where believers were first called Christians. With its mixture of Jews and Gentiles, the church at Antioch became fertile ground for the growth and spread of Christianity and a model congregation in the early days of the new Christian church. The generosity of Barnabas was surely a source of encouragement for the folks who were part of the early church.
- This church in Antioch launched Paul into a global ministry; a ministry we are still learning from and building on today
So, the question I would like for you to answer is this: where would the church be today if Barnabas had not used his influence positively? Or maybe this is a better question for us all: where will the church be in the future if we do not use our influence in a positive way today?
I cannot wait to see what your influence will look like through the people we serve and lead in Lebanon. How will their influence further the Kingdom of God in the years ahead until He returns? What kind of influence would take place if we do nothing?
Heart for Lebanon, Co-Founder
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