In a biographical sketch about Barnabas, James E. Kiefer writes:
“Joseph, a Levite, born in Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (son of encouragement), sold a field he owned, brought the money, and turned it over to the apostles.” (Acts 4:36). This is the first mention we have of Barnabas.
His new name fits what we know of his actions. When Saul (or Paul) came to Jerusalem after his conversion, most of the Christians there wanted nothing to do with him. They had known him as a persecutor and an enemy of the Church. But Barnabas was willing to give him a second chance. He looked him up, spoke with him, and brought him to see the other Christians, vouching for him. Later, Paul and Barnabas went on a missionary journey together, taking Mark with them. Part way, Mark turned back and went home. When Paul and Barnabas were about to set out on another such journey, Barnabas proposed to take Mark along, and Paul was against it, saying that Mark had shown himself undependable. Barnabas wanted to give Mark a second chance, and so he and Mark went off on one journey, while Paul took Silas and went on another. Apparently Mark responded well to the trust given him by the “son of encouragement,” since we find that Paul later speaks of him as a valuable assistant (2 Tim 4:11; see also Col 4:10 and Phil 24).
In my “day job” I am in law enforcement. One week ago we had the 8 year anniversary (9/21/2009) of a shooting in which 5 of my friends were hit in one way or another with shotgun pellets … one of them critically. Through a long recovery, a 24-7 vigil in the waiting room and constant prayer, he recovered. One year later, this same friend was having breakfast with his wife on his birthday. As they were eating breakfast and discussing the plan for the day, this friend started having what he called “heartburn” or some kind of indigestion. THANKFULLY, his wife insisted he go to the doctor and SURPRISINGLY he listened. That night we visited him in the hospital after open heart (double or triple bi-pass) surgery! In true law enforcement fashion, I told him he is too mean to die! This friend is a retired Marine Gunnery Sgt, a long time cop and, as I like to affectionately call him, a grumpy old man!
For those who have been in the military and/or law enforcement and have had to go through an event like this develop a bond that others will never have and cannot understand. As with most agencies, this type of event is heavily scrutinized and a full investigation ensues! And … they WILL find something wrong! Thankfully, the findings in this case were minimal and didn’t affect any of us directly. In times like this, though, it is very easy to start questioning what happened and pointing fingers. In this case, although there was a lot of questioning of ourselves and what we could have done better or differently (like me not calling my friend a Grumpy Old Man a little before he would get shot!), we didn’t play the blame game! Everyone took the Barnabas stance and built each other up. Each of us had to work through our emotions, grief, guilt, fears, etc, and we were given that opportunity with our employee assistance folks.
In law enforcement circles we talk about “going through the door” or “going in” and those people we would or wouldn’t go through a door with! A lot has occurred in the last 8 years since this shooting and most of us are not still working in the same unit as we were then, but a bond was created that will last forever and I would go through any door with any one of those guys!
Are there people in your life who need to be encouraged? Are there people in your life who have let you down or have been “undependable” and need to be restored? 2 Cor 13:11 – Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
1 Thes 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Father, I pray that You would call to mind those with whom we are estranged or those with whom we need to be restored. No matter how long the relationship has been broken, no matter how deep the wound … nothing is too much for You and no one is too far gone! I pray for reconciliation and against division. In Jesus’ name! Amen.