A generous hearted brother
I never had a brother. I’m the brother to two great sisters. Some say ‘that explains a lot!’ Whether such pop-psychology is right or wrong it does mean that I delight in having many spiritual “brothers” in the Lord Jesus Christ. For that is the reality for the Christian. We can only come to know God as our loving Heavenly Father through the reconciling power of the cross of Jesus Christ.
I’m not a churchy type when it comes to Anglican practice. But it’s worth noting a lesser-celebrated saint’s day – Barnabas the Apostle is remembered on 11th June. For most of us this event will pass us by. But if we read the Bible we discover what a great Christian brother he was. It’s unhelpful to use the term ‘saint’ for such stars in the ecclesiastical world since the Bible uses this term generally for all followers of Jesus, rather than for famous Christians of historical importance.
Anyway, back to the main point. Barnabas was an early member of the Jerusalem church and sold his property for the common good: ‘Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement) sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles feet’ (Acts 4v36-37). He played a significant role. For when their fierce enemy Saul became the Christian now called Paul it was Barnabas who ‘took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascas he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus’ (Acts 9v27). It was Barnabas who also showed a committed full acceptance of the Gentiles (non-Jews) who showed faith in Jesus Christ. It was a crucial aspect of the good news of Jesus who brings together people who formerly are antagonistic to one another. It was also Barnabas who insisted on including Mark in the work despite his earlier desertion.
Barnabas was true to his name in his conduct. His warm-heartedness was based on gospel truth rather than going for the lowest common denominator. How much is our conduct shaped by the gospel truth? Do we show confidence in what the Bible teaches us to do? Or do we compromise? The truth is invigorating and energising. For the truth that Jesus reveals leads us to freedom and joy. It leads to generous hearted brothers and sisters in Christ. It leads to a consistency in belief and behaviour: having tough heads, but tender hearts; following the Biblical teaching come what may, rather than papering over the cracks.
With love in Christ.