“But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles . . .” Acts 9:27
The task of moving on from yesterday continues to haunt our present. The heartbreaking circumstances, the traumatic events and difficult situation linger like a low-hanging fog over a meadow.
Yet, the greatest struggle of putting our past behind us is other people’s memory. There are those who will not let us forget our bad choices and shortcomings. People don’t easily forget who we once were.
After Saul was run out of Damascus, he went to Jerusalem where he was not well received. They too had memories, they had not forgotten the part he played in the death of Stephen. They were afraid of him. His past was working against him. The church at Jerusalem closed their doors on Saul.
After Saul’s soul-wrenching agony of realizing his sin; after his shattering encounter with Christ on the Damascus road; after the pain of adjusting to new life; after having trusted the resurrected Lord, the followers of Jesus refused to receive him, believe him, or give him a chance. Saul was rejected by Christians, what a disillusioning experience that must have been.
And then, the story takes a turn for the better. Then came Barnabas, he saved the day for Saul. Barnabas spoke up for Saul. And from that time on, Saul mingled freely with the disciples. We need more Christians like Barnabas. Believers who are willing to take a chance on those with a messy past. Disciples who aren’t afraid to risk disappointment after disappointment. Believers who keep on loving others well, always confident in Christ’s ability to bring about lasting change in the lives of others.
Sadly, many churches today would respond to Saul in the same manner as did the church at Jerusalem. They’d rather play it safe than to take a risk. A warning to the Christians who shut their doors to those who need them most, it’s far better to take a chance on one and lose than lose one by refusing to give one a chance.
Who in your life can you help in their spiritual growth?