“But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.”
Any church that is going to be a church where people come to get their lives changed must be filled with people who act like Barnabas. The name “Barnabas” means, the son of consolation or comfort. In other words, Barnabas became that security blanket for the down-and-out person who nobody wanted.
The verse above is a classic verse that shows the character of Barnabas. Paul, who was known as Saul at the time, came to Jerusalem because his life was threatened, but nobody wanted anything to do with him because they all feared that he was deceiving them so that he could capture and persecute them. The life story of Paul didn’t end because of Barnabas. The two biggest words in Paul’s life are found in the verse above when it says, “But Barnabas…” When nobody else took in Paul, Barnabas was willing to take a risk to help him become the believer whom God wanted him to be. If a church or a believer is going to see lives changed, they are going to have to have the two words said about them that is found in the verse above, “But…” Let me share with you the characteristics needed for you and your church to be a place or people who help the down-and-out reach their potential for God.
First, you must be willing to risk investing in people who are not wanted. I don’t know if there is anything that is more Christlike than taking the people who others do not want and try to help them become a trophy in God’s hands. If all you want to do is work with those who have no problems, you will never be used by God to see people’s lives turned around. You are going to have to take a risk on people who most would reject because they don’t fit their model of someone whom God could use.
Second, you must believe in the changing power of God in the life of an individual. I’m afraid that we forget where most of the trophies of grace came from in our church. We see the people dressed nice who deliver Sunday school lessons, drive buses, or hold positions in the church, but we forget that many of those people were reached when they were at the bottom of their life. If you showed a picture of where many came from, you would never recognize who they were before the LORD performed His changing power in their life. You must never underestimate what the power of God can do in one’s life if you want to see lives changed. If you want God to use you to change lives, you must look beyond the current condition to the changed condition that they could become once God gets ahold of their life.
Third, you must be willing to have a church filled with sinners if you want God to change lives. Face it; if you have a church that looks like it is filled with perfect Christians, you are going to a church that is not reaching the lost. A church that reaches the lost will look more like a junkyard of people whose lives sin has ravaged, but the Gospel has reached. Never get into the mode that everyone in your church must look perfect. Only the power of God can take a life from the junkyard of sin to become a trophy of God’s grace. My friend, are you willing to be a Barnabas? If you are, you will find yourself going after the down-and-out, but you will find your life will be the tool God uses to reach the Paul’s.