So this past week at church, the sermon was from the book of Acts and I was happy because since January our college small group was studying the book of Acts really in-depth. The particular passage was on the church in Antioch, the place where Greeks were first intentionally included in the gospel mission. Some unnamed Christians from Cyprus travel up to Antioch, which was apparently a really big city right next to a temple of Daphne which was dedicated to sex worship (interesting tidbit) and they started talking with Gentiles specifically Greeks. They were seeing a lot of people respond and the church in Jerusalem wanted to check it out. So this guy Barnabas goes to see what the deal was. Verse 23 and 24, “When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”
I thought this was neat stuff. First off, I LOVE Barnabas. As a character I really resonant with him and want to be more like him as a whole. The pastor made a point of accentuating Barnabas as a character particularly in relation to Paul. Paul was the big charmer, but Barnabas had a subtle ability to see the merit in people that others did not. He also was more willing to compromise for the sake of peace. He’s the one who convinced the disciples to take a chance on this Saul dude who they were so scared about. He also stood up to Paul later when he wanted to dismiss a guy name John Mark for being a punk and they ended up parting ways (even though Paul later came around).
The focus on this part of the sermon was that in the passage, Barnabas saw what the grace of God had done and was glad. The pastor then challenged us to think about what brings us joy? How am I made glad? Am I glad when I see the grace of God at work? Where do I see the grace of God at work?
These were some great questions and I really stuck on them for the rest of the sermon. There were other points, but this one stuck with me. I spent some time reflecting on what brings me joy (which I already talked about over here) and I had some realizations about myself. I am most joyous when I see people succeeding at what God created them to do. Like when someone realizes their own giftedness and really GETS it. Seeing someone soar and enjoying who they are just makes me SO HAPPY I COULD EXPLODE! Seeing the grace of God evident in people coming to understand him and how they relate to him is so life-giving for me.
It’s a question worth asking yourself. What brings you joy and makes you glad? Where is the grace of God at work near you?
Keep your eyes open because God may want to bless you more than you realize. 🙂