Risky Business

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. (Acts 9:15)

Jim Woodroof once suggested that had it not been for the apostle Paul, we would still be drinking the blood of our enemies out of their skulls. What he meant was that it was largely the work of Paul who carried the gospel to the pagan world. Without the influence of Christ, we would all still be pagan, and it was Paul who was Christ's messenger to the non-Jewish world. The impact of this one man on history cannot be over-emphasized.

And it almost didn't happen! After the baptism of Saul of Tarsus, the church was hesitant to accept the former persecutor into its midst. Yes, he had debated the Jews in Damascus; yes, he had to flee that city because of persecution. But the Christians were afraid that it was all a ploy to allow him to infiltrate the church so that he could do more harm to Christians. When Saul came to Jerusalem, no one would have anything to do with him. No one, that is, except Barnabas, the "Son of Encouragement."
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:26-27)

Without the willingness of Barnabas to take the risk to embrace Saul and make use of his many gifts, Saul of Tarsus may have never become the apostle Paul.

What risks have you taken for Christ and on other people? Chances are you will never have to take a chance on a converted terrorist. But what about reaching out to someone at work, in the neighborhood or even at church who does not seem to have many friends? Are you willing to take a personal risk in associating with someone upon whom you can have a great impact. Sure, pouring yourself into the life of others is always risky business. It was risky for Barnabas to embrace Paul and take him under his wing. But it is possible that Paul would have never been able to go across the world with the gospel had not Barnabas been willing to go across the street with encouragement and acceptance. Think about it.