The Ministry of Barnabas

The Ministry of Barnabas

I love to study the life examples provided in the Word of God. God had a specific purpose for the inclusion of everyone. Each has a story to tell and a lesson to convey. If you could be like anyone Bible character, who would you choose? What is it about that character’s story that resonates with you?

When I was younger, I would have immediately chosen King David. I loved to hear of his courage and trust in God Almighty. When I advanced to my teen years, I longed to find true love as Ruth did in her marriage to Boaz. As I have matured into adulthood, I have determined to be most like Barnabas.

Being active in ministry, it has become all to clear to me that this world is filled with broken people. However, the brokenness is not reserved for those on the outside of our churches looking in. The brokenness sits among us each Sunday. Often, broken people stand to lead us in worship, teach our children in Sunday School, and even deliver the evening sermon. Despite our desire and efforts to minister to the lost, many of us are in desperate need of ministry ourselves.

The first encounter with my chosen Bible character is in the book of Acts. At the conclusion of Acts 4, a Levite from Cyprus, named Joseph, sells a plot of land and brings the money to the apostles so it may be distributed to those in need. Actions such as this prompted the Jerusalem apostles to rename this man Barnabas, meaning Son of Encouragement. We see Barnabas further demonstrate his gift to encourage in chapter 9 when he reaches out to the new convert, Saul.

Although God had used Saul among the believers in Damascus, Saul was not yet accepted by the apostles in Jerusalem. Despite attempts to join them, the apostles in Jerusalem rejected Saul. It was Barnabas alone who extended a hand of fellowship to Saul. He reached out and ministered to a man who had been rejected by others.

Rejection is only one possible cause for brokenness in people. Regardless of the cause, people who are feeling broken are in need of a Barnabas. Someone to reach out and help bridge the gap between hurt and health. While studying the book of Ephesians, I was recently reminded of the purpose of the five-fold ministry and the importance of a ministry like Barnabas’.

It was he (Christ) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the whole body of Christ may be built up…Ephesians 4:11-12

A closer look at the original language in this verse sheds some light on our purpose. ‘To prepare’, pros ton katartismon, literally means to put right. This Greek word is a surgical term most often referring to the setting of a broken bone. The same term can be found in Matthew 4:21 and Galatians 6:1. In Matthew, we read of Jesus finding James and John in a boat preparing or mending their nets. In the second reference in Galatians, our Greek word is translated as restore.

The church today is ever vigilant about preparing and equipping its members. We are instructed how to use every means to reach the unchurched. But in this verse in Ephesians, Paul reminds us Christ ordained the five-fold ministry for the additional purpose of repairing. Besides looking for hurting people beyond our four walls, the Church needs to identify and put right those hurting pieces on the inside so the whole body might be built up.

Take some time and look around you. If you are willing, ask God to direct you to someone who needs a friend. Listen as He directs your path. Don’t be fooled by a smiling face and carefree spirit. If God lays someone on your heart, step out in faith and encourage. A simple act of kindness or a card of encouragement can go a long way to making someone feel loved. Your small action can make a huge difference.

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