Originally published Wednesday, 26 June 2013.
Have you ever made an unexpected friend? I have! On more than one occasion my first impressions of someone has given me a skewed version of reality. Upon further inspection, combined with greater portions of time spent in their company, I made friends with people whom I considered outside the realm of my personal comfort zone. First, this required my speaking up and reaching out, much like Barnabas to Saul.
In Acts 9:20-30, Luke records Paul's meeting with the disciples in Damascus. Paul then preaches in the synagogues proving Jesus is the Christ which leads to the plot of the Jews to kill the ex-persecutor of Christians, Paul, or Saul of Tarsus. However, Paul's disciples take him by night and let him down in a basket through an opening in the city wall.
Paul travels to Jerusalem, where the disciples are afraid of him; they do not believe his conversion is true. But Barnabas raises the risk and puts faith in the profession of Paul. Thereafter, Paul preaches boldly in Jerusalem until the disciples learn the Hellenists are seeking to kill Paul. So the disciples send Paul off to Tarsus.
Later in Acts 13, we see Barnabas and Saul (Paul) commissioned by the Holy Spirit to be set apart for His work. Although Paul and Barnabas will later have such differences in ministry that they part ways, I wonder if during their stint in joint ministry did these two men talk over the time when Barnabas took courage to believe in the evidence of Paul's amazing grace conversion?
Jesus said that people will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. In choosing to give Paul a chance and believe on his word that he was a changed man, by the grace of Jesus alone, Barnabas demonstrated the love of Christ to Paul.
For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but of power, love, and a sound mind.~ 1Timothy 2:7
God's Spirit continues to work power, love, and a sound mind in and through disciples of Christ Jesus. We too are to be known by our love for one another.
First impressions, and past impressions, aren't always correct. We can choose to be fearful and subsequently miss out on relationships that will bring us closer to the person Christ is developing us into, or we can live out of His Spirit of power, love, and a mind that is unafraid. Praise the Lord, He has given us a Spirit to guide us and the gift of a sound mind to face our fears and trust in God. (1 Timothy 2:7)
What about you? Is God preparing you for a friendship with an unlikely candidate? Pray that He will guide you to speak up and reach out to the people that He places in your path today. Who knows, one day you may look back together and say, "Remember when...?"