Sometimes, one of the things that we find really difficult or awkward is sharing the gospel with those closest to us.
It might be that we have fear because of what they might say or think, or perhaps there is fear because they know us so well and our faults are very evident; or there might be other reasons, as well. Regardless, we know deep down that it isn’t right to balk at giving those closest to us the best news they’ll ever hear, but our humanness gets in the way.
After Saul (now Paul) and Barnabas delivered the money to the church at Jerusalem, they journeyed back North to Antioch where they made preparations for Paul’s first missionary journey. They teamed up with Mark, (Barnabas’ nephew) and sailed out into the Mediterranean Sea and made landfall at the island of Cyprus – Barnabas’ homeland.
The Bible doesn’t tell us much of Barnabas’ early life. We don’t know when he became a Christian, and we don’t know whether or not his family knew of Christ. What we do know is that he was now home preaching the Good News.
Not only do we sometimes struggle with sharing the gospel with those closest to us, but they sometimes struggle hearing it from us too.
Jesus warned us; (Luk 4:24) And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
Peter also knew this, and he encouraged those wives who had unbelieving husbands to let their walk talk, instead of letting their nag talk. Why? Because the husbands would balk at it. (I Peter 3:1-2)
So Barnabas went home. The Bible records for us two stops. The first one was on the East side of the island at a city named Salamis. They went to the synagogue and preached with apparently no results.
(Act 13:5) And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews…
From there they travelled to the West side of the Island to Paphos. The ministry in Paphos took a dramatic turn with a showdown with a local sorcerer.
It was customary for high ranking officials to keep on retainer a local sorcerer or two, and when the governor of Cyprus invited Paul and Barnabas in to speak, the sorcerer became alarmed for his job and withstood them.
(Act 13:8) But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith
Paul, in his very Paul-like way rebuked the sorcerer and by the power of God had him struck blind temporarily. With such power in evidence, the governor gave his life to the Lord. V. 13
This ended their ministry on Cyprus. The Bible records for us two stops, and only one conversion.
I’m not sure how Barnabas would have felt preaching at home, to those who knew him best but I can imagine how I would feel. An emotional mixture of trepidation, excitement and a little fear mixed in for good measure.
With all of the effort and expense put into this trip, would they be disappointed in the only one conversion?
Perhaps this experience provided the basis for Paul’s philosophy in I Corinthians 3.
(1Co 3:7) So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
May this be our rallying cry and trust God to bring forth results whether we are at home or away.
Ryan King is pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Westville.