Today’s reading - Acts 11:25-30 (NIV): 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
27During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
These two paragraphs of scripture reveal two very important characteristics of Jesus. Jesus spent time with the people that needed Him. He helped people to know who He was, he stayed with them night and day and he taught them all they needed to know. Now Barnabas and Saul are doing the same thing; helping the people in Antioch to know more about Christ and to live a Christ-like life.
History teaches us that Antioch was the first group of people that were called Christians and they were as diverse a population as there could be. It was important for Barnabas and Saul to continue their work there. The characteristic of spending time with others to help them learn.
When this group of disciples heard of the famine that was to spread throughout the area, they came together and decided it was right to help those that would soon be in need. They gave what they could to help those in Judea. The characteristic of serving is revealed in vs. 29 – providing for others.
With the holiday season upon us very soon, we will be given multiple opportunities to spend time with our families, friends and some of us may have to choose between families. We will also be offered many opportunities to serve others less fortunate and are in need of food, finances, clothing, gifts and some of us may have to choose how much we can send to assist.
If you are a budget shopper or a spend thrift at this time of year, don’t forget to invite Christ into your life to keep you focused on His ever presence. Spend time with others teaching them about the real reason we celebrate Christmas. The message is needed and you and I are charged to share the Joy to the World. That is what Barnabas and Saul were doing.
Dorothy Drago Brucks