As Americans we idolize independence. We have bought into a myth that says that the key to happiness is independence. Obviously that’s not true. God says that the key to happiness is not independence but interdependence. We need each other.
When you examine the New Testament church, you see they were a massive, growing, unified family who had “all things in common” (Acts 2). Part of God’s purpose for His church is to give His children a place to belong and feel connected. The New Testament church is God’s solution to an Old Testament problem. (“It is not good for man to be alone.”) So how do we as Connection Point Church point people to a connection with one another? There is a man in the Bible nicknamed “Barnabas” that we should emulate and strive to be like as we become Connection Point.
From Barnabas’ story in the Book of Acts, we can see five ways that we can be an encourager like Barnabas and point people to a connection with one another.
1. I can encourage others by practicing generosity.
Acts 4:36-37, “Joseph, a Levite and a Cypriot by birth, whom the apostles named Barnabas, which is translated Son of Encouragement, sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Because of the increasing persecution of Christians in Jerusalem, many new believers lost everything to follow Jesus. There was a real tangible need that had to be met. Barnabas, who was an encourager, saw a need and he moved in to meet that need.
2. I can encourage others by extending friendship.
READ Acts 9:22-29. “Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles and explained to them how, on the road, Saul had seen the Lord, and that He had talked to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.” Barnabas encouraged Paul by extending love and friendship. Paul needed somebody to love him. He had lost all his old friends, and his new friends were suspicious of him. The early church was reluctant to welcome Paul at first because he was notorious for persecuting and killing early Christians in the church.
3. I can encourage others by building partnerships.
READ Acts 11:20-24. Revival broke out in Antioch. The headquarters at that time for Christianity was in Jerusalem. The early church decided they needed to check out what was happening in Antioch and disciple those new believers. Who did they send? Barnabas. Notice what it says about him in vs. 23-24. He was a bridge builder, meaning he helped connect these new believers with the existing believers in the early church.
4. I can encourage others by developing leadership.
Acts 11:25-26, “Then he went to Tarsus to search for Saul, and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers, and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” Barnabas knew that Saul was the only one who could lead this new movement of Christians. He knew he wasn’t the leader – he was an encourager. He also knew Saul had spiritual gifts that needed to be discovered and developed.
5. I can encourage others by rebuilding relationships.
READ Acts 15:36-40. A man named John Mark went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. John Mark got homesick and wanted to go back home. This upset Paul, so Paul and Barnabas continued on their missionary journey. Later on, as they were retracing their steps, Barnabas wanted to go back and get John Mark. Paul refused. He had left them, and he was not going back to get him. This is when Paul and Barnabas split paths. Barnabas knew that failure was not final, and he wanted to mend a broken relationship.