Where would the church be without Paul? But what would Paul have done without Barnabas? Barnabas vouches for Paul and brings him into the fellowship of the Jerusalem church. And in today’s story, Barnabas fetches Paul from Tarsus to Antioch where Paul flourishes. Paul owes much to Barnabas’ friendship. Friendship impacts our lives and Barnabas shows us Christian friendship.
First, friends forgive. Their friendship begins with Barnabas forgiving Paul for the execution of Stephen whom Barnabas knew well.
Secondly, friends spend time together. Their friendship develop through one year of joint ministry in Antioch. Human relationship is always a physical one. Only physical face to face interaction strengthens our bonds.
Thirdly, friends do not envy each other. Early in their mission trip, Paul begins to be the main preacher receiving most of the attention. This does not threaten the friendship because Barnabas is ready to put his friend first because he is always putting God first.
Fourthly, friends stay with their friends. When Paul doesn’t want to give Mark a second chance for abandoning them in their first mission trip, Barnabas stands up for Mark as much as Barnabas stood up for Paul. Paul fails to see this which leads to a temporary break in their friendship. But through Paul’s life and letters we see Paul becomes more like Barnabas. In time, Paul befriends Mark.
Actually, much of Paul’s fruitfulness is due to his friendship rather than his skills. Everywhere he goes, he develops lifelong friends.
Finally, what Barnabas, and what Paul eventually, embodies is already embodied in Jesus. Jesus is a friend who forgives, spends time with us, wants greater things for us, and will stay with us to the end.
Weekly Prayer: “Thank you Jesus for your friendship. Give me opportunities to be such a friend to others today.”