Time Magazine’s recent headline stated, “How Kanye West’s controversial ‘Jesus Is King’ Is Dividing the Christian Community.” This is a sad but true reality.
After reading negative responses to Kanye West’s recent conversion to Jesus, I found myself asking, “Where are the Barnabases in the church?”
In my opinion, Barnabas is one of the greatest leaders in the early church. He’s an unsung hero, if you will. A faithful follower of Christ who quietly made his impact on the growth of the church without drawing attention to himself.
Kanye West’s conversion reminds me of another young man who possessed a bad reputation but ultimately became one of the greatest missionaries in history—the apostle Paul.
After he came to Christ, there were those who questioned the validity of his salvation much like Kanye has experienced. I have no firsthand knowledge concerning Kanye, but his story illustrates something that is lacking in some quarters of the church, which is an unwillingness to embrace people from different and often questionable backgrounds. This is a blind spot, which we are going to need to correct because there are large numbers coming to Jesus who don’t look, talk or act like we think is “appropriate.”
Are our attitudes ready for them? Could this be a reason the end-times revival is being held up? This is where we need the Barnabases in our generation.
We are first introduced to Barnabas in Acts 4:32-33. He was highly regarded by the early church because of his integrity and his ability to encourage others. In fact, Barnabas was actually a nickname. It means son of encouragement.
It has been my observation that encouragers are faith-filled, risk-takers and secure in their identity in Christ. Let’s briefly look at how Barnabas’ encouragement had a major impact on two future leaders in the church.
When Paul first came to Jerusalem, though several years after his conversion, the believers were afraid of him. Evidently, some believed Paul’s visit was just a plot by the Jewish leaders to infiltrate the church. Barnabas took a huge risk to reach out to Paul.
A period of three years had transpired between Paul’s dramatic Damascus Road conversion and the visit to Jerusalem. Few outside Damascus knew if his conversion was genuine or not. They did not have the benefits of cable news or social media to give them 24/7 reports from around the world. They didn’t accept him. Thankfully, there was Barnabas.
Then when he (Barnabas) arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers (Acts 11:23-26).
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SOURCE: Charisma News