At the church in Antioch, we read, there were a number of prophets and teachers. I don’t know if Saul (Paul) and Barnabas were the best of the group, but judging by their ministry elsewhere, they must’ve had a powerful impact on the church in Antioch. I write that because I’m thinking it can’t have been easy to have let them go.
In other words, if they were as good as they seem to be, you’d think the church in Antioch would want to keep them for themselves. They were no doubt helping the church to grow and effectively reach the city around them. How could that not continue to be God’s will?
But these verses also make it clear that however it may have seemed, that was not God’s will. God’s will was, in fact, that they take their gifts and talents and use them “out in the world”.
Perhaps it is worth thinking about our churches. Do we keep our good gifts and our best people to ourselves? Or do we send them out into the world to spread God’s word? In other words, how are we doing at empowering people to minister beyond the walls of our churches? How are we doing at ministering not just to ourselves, but to the people in our community?
Churches, and the people in them, are at their best, I think, when they are looking beyond themselves. Whether it is looking to God for direction through fasting and worship, or whether it is looking to the world around them that the world too might hear the good news of God’s love, there is an outward focus.
To know God’s love is to know that we also must share it.