Sometimes as I read the letters of Paul, I forget about Paul as a man. I get caught up in his message and don’t remember the circumstances in which he lived, worked, and ministered. In today’s reading, I was intrigued by Paul’s mentions of Barnabas. Several times in these to verses, Paul writes about how “they” felt or how they “did not give in”. This caused me to pause, and I wondered about the friendship between Paul and Barnabas and its significance in Paul’s life and ministry: How friendly were they? What exactly was their relationship? If it was significant, why?
I did a little research and found a couple of things. Barnabas was leading a church in Antioch and when the church grew, Paul was recruited as an associate. Paul worked with Barnabas for several years and it was from Antioch that Paul set out on his missionary trips. On his first missionary trip, Paul and Barnabas traveled together. Paul and Barnabas were co-laborers and must have had a special relationship because of the times and trials they endured together.
I don’t think I’m reading too much into the verses from Galatians to say that Barnabas provided Paul with some critical support and that there was an increased effectiveness when they were working together.
After reading the verses from Galatians and looking a little closer at Paul and Barnabas, I began to think about relationships I have in the body of Christ and I asked myself some questions:
Am I a mentor to someone?
Do I offer support, advice, and encouragement to others as they are using their gifts and talents in the church?
Do people look at me as a helper or a hindrance?
Do I try to be a friend to others?
Paul was able to speak of Barnabas as “we” because they had invested time in each other and had a body of shared experiences. I would like to be part of a “WE” in the church. How about you?