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A Legacy of Intentionality

He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people [in Antioch] were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch.
- from Acts 11:24-25

The ministry in Antioch thrived under Barnabas’ leadership. A great number of people were brought to the Lord. But Barnabas went looking for Saul. Why?

Some commentators believe that Barnabas was a better bridge-builder than he was a teacher. Perhaps he reached his limits and needed help. That still doesn’t answer the question “Why Saul?”

Barnabas could have sent back to Jerusalem and had his pick of the apostles to come and minister in Antioch. Peter made rounds in Judea visiting churches. Surely he could go a little farther and visit the church in Antioch. Saul was living in Tarsus in obscurity, a failure as a Pharisee and a failure as an evangelist of Jesus. What might Barnabas have seen in him?

Barnabas served a church made up of Jews and Greeks. He himself was both Jewish and from non-Jewish territory. Perhaps he thought he needed someone who knew Greek life and culture. Saul had grown up in Tarsus, near Antioch. He had a Roman citizenship and a Roman name (Saul was also called Paul). Perhaps he could help.

Barnabas’ decision to go after Saul has ripple effects that impact us to this day. Saul went on to launch a church planting movement throughout the Roman Empire and write most of the New Testament. He became, as he called it, the “apostle to the Gentiles.” Most of us who are Christians but not Jewish can trace our spiritual lineage to Saul.

Breaking through barriers isn’t a cute, trendy, politically-correct, wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if-it-happened kind of thing. Our decisions to tear down dividing walls in Jesus’ name will impact the generations that follow us.

Take a few minutes to dream today. What would life look like for you if some of the dividing walls around you came tumbling down?

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