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Acts 9:26-31, When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus. So, the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

Saul’s Apostolic calling was undeniable. He might have assumed that his place should be with the other Apostles. Upon attempting to make contact with the other believers in Jerusalem, “They were all afraid of him.” (Acts 9:26) As evil as his actions had been, anyone who has been forgiven of sin must have some empathy for him. If you have been lonely for any amount of time, you can understand a little of what Paul must have felt.

Two of the most powerful words in the life of Paul are “but Barnabas!” We can meet many people in life. Some honorable, while others can be destructive or hurtful. A precious few will be our “real-life” heroes. Barnabas was a hero in the best sense. In part real Christian heroes are men or women who risk themselves in obedience to Christ. Barnabas reached out to a hurting and relatively new convert, an apostle no less. As a matter of survival or necessity, Paul accepted the kindness of a loving brother.

Joseph, or Barnabas as the disciples renamed him, gave an example that we do not want to miss. Having been renamed the “Son of Encouragement,” God used Barnabas to encourage, or inspire, those who had dedicated their life to Jesus.
It was Barnabas who escorted Paul to the Apostles. Two memories must have invaded that moment. The first might have been, when Saul, or Paul, had attended the stoning of Stephen. The vile and reprehensible slaughter of a faithful child of God. The second might have been the love and kindness of Barnabas when any one of them needed to be helped up off of the spiritual ground of life. Knowing that it was Barnabas’ disposition to trust people inherently through faith in Jesus, they now face a choice of trusting Barnabas or distrusting Paul. Barnabas was being the man he had always been, Paul was professing repentance and forgiveness in Christ.

Barnabas was successful in helping the others to trust Paul, so Paul was set loose in Jerusalem to attack Satan and his evil works in Jerusalem. Paul was supremely successful at debating the Grecian Jews and as a result was nearly killed for his efforts. It is interesting that as Paul left the area, the churches would obtain peace. (Acts 9:31) Paul was a “pot-stirrer extraordinaire!” Tarsus was about to have their “pot” stirred as Paul approached.

As a result, the church that was left behind was stronger. (Acts 9:31) Barnabas kept on being Barnabas. He did a great deal of good for God’s people wherever he was. So did Paul. For those who cherish peace, just be sure that the peace we seek does not come at the cost of spiritual capitulation. Peace at all cost is really no peace at all. The early Church needed both times of peace and times of confrontation. It needed the Barnabas’ and the Paul’s of their day. The Church today still does. We need times of encouragement, and times of challenge in order to find growth among our individual members and our body as a whole. One word of caution is to be sure that the encouragement we seek is not surrender to a lost and dead world. Also, be sure the challenge we seek is not the attention seeking actions of Biblically illiterate individuals who are simply attempting to have a moment in the religious spot-light. The way to know the difference is to apply the Word to our lives and its many situations. Live the truth and cherish its power to bring change to a world of darkness and every faithful person living in it.