>> October 29, 2015
Every superhero needs a sidekick and that's exactly how I see Joseph, the Levite from Cyprus, A.K.A. (every sidekick should have an A.K.A. right?) Barnabas. I mean seriously... the B-man had some major sidekickish skillz: Compassionate, encourager, mediator, mentor, companion, just to name a few.
I've completed a detailed study from the book of Acts* and noticed how the main characters shine like a lighthouse on a stormy night in the age of the early church. Peter and Paul may be the famous Superheroes, but my man Barnabas, stands out in so many ways that I can't help but think... when I grow up, I want to be just like him.
Let me explain...
On the infamous day of the mighty wind and tongues of fire experience in the 2nd Chapter of Acts (now referred to as The Day of Pentecost), Superhero Peter led 3,000 people to Christ. Ka-Boom! We have an instant mega church! Now when
there is explosive growth like that it can create its own breed of problems. And just like any ministry in today's day and age, money is always a functioning need. Granted, they didn't have Public Utility bills, publicity or printing expenses. Nor did they have janitors, secretaries, youth pastors and worship leader salaries to pay, but they still needed to feed and shelter themselves.
Acts 2:44-47 tells us that all the believers were together, selling their "stuff" and providing for everyone's needs. They ate meals together, visited from house to house, and praised God for His favor among the people. The church grew and our sidekick B-man, among others, sold his land and brought the money to the disciples and gave it freely for the use of the church.
As with every good Superhero story, there is gonna be a villain or two. In chapter 8 of the book of Acts, in walks the early church's villain, Saul. (boooo!)
Acts 8:3 "As for Saul (booo) he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men AND women, committing them to prison."But God had a plan to turn our villain into a Superhero for Him. You can read that in the 9th chapter where Saul has the famous blinded by the Light experience which sets him on a different path and eventually his name is changed to Paul. The point I want to bring out in chapter 9 is where our sidekick steps up and convinces the other Superheroes that Saul is a legit Christ follower: he was baptized in water, began preaching, teaching and everything!
Acts 9:10 "But Barnabas (Yay!) took him (Saul) and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he (Saul) had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus."Later in Acts 11 we find the Apostles trust the character of their sidekick enough to send him to investigate some strange thing happening...uncircumcised Gentiles were becoming Christ-followers. *GASP*
So, now we have Saul and Barnabas teaming up. Saul, the stronger personality, tends to step up as the superhero and B-man willingly serves as the sidekick. They take a missionary journey and include a relative of Barnabas named John Mark. Somewhere along the way John Mark goes back to Jerusalem. (Acts 13:13) But later, when the duo is sent out on another missionary venture, Barnabas wants to include John Mark again. Saul...(also called Paul for the first time in chapter 13) wants nothing to do with that plan.
This is where we see a great transition for our faithful sidekick. He now becomes a mighty mentor, elevating him, (in my view) to the status of a superhero. He chooses young John Mark as his new sidekick and Paul selects Silas and off they go, each pair their own way.
There may have been conflict between Barnabas and Paul over the worthiness or faithfulness of the younger man due to his previous actions, but the outcome is God ordained. The work of the Lord is multiplied as the two pairs head off in different directions, preaching the same message: The good news of Christ the Messiah.
Every superhero needs a sidekick. Everyone needs a Barnabas in his/her life. Someone who will see the best in us. Encourage us. Be a companion. A mentor. Be a co-laborer for Christ. Do you have a Barnabas that speaks into your life? Or maybe you have the B-man skillz I long so much to exemplify.
Whether you are the superhero or the sidekick, I encourage you to be active in the work of the Lord in your local congregation and community. Perhaps, like Barnabas with John Mark, there is someone you can invest into their lives by encouraging them towards success and help them to grow beyond their past failures.
Be a Superhero for Jesus!
* This was written to fulfill a requirement for a study I am doing on the book of Acts.