When Saul had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. – Acts 9:26-31
We had the opportunity to recognize several partner churches and other churches today at the LCMS National Convention. It was a great moment to see all the bishops and church leaders from around the world up on the stage. Pastors and church leaders from Russia, Finland, Germany, Portugal, Guatemala, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Madagascar were present – just to name a few. I believe our warm reception of them was encouraging. We stood, applauded, and then sang a hymn in celebration of our work together.
This is in sharp contrast to some of the resolutions and conversations that have also been part of our time together. There have been some contentious moments and all too many Caiaphas moments during the debates. Who can do what and when? Who has the power and the authority to oversee this person or ministry? What will be allowed or not?
Sometimes these conversations are essential. We do need controls and boundaries. The lines of authority must be clearly drawn for the welfare of the church. But in the end, I believe we need more Barnabas interactions of encouragement and support in the church today. We don’t need Caiaphas rules. Too many are discouraged and dishearterned in the face of the challenges we all face. Too many churches are struggling. Too few are experiencing such growth that they must put up new lines and boundaries.
Barnabas is a great example of one who aided the work of God’s mission by means of his of Saul to the rest of the Apostles. The rest is history. I vote for Barnabas, and look for his encouraging support in serving for the cause of God’s rule and reign.