Saul/Paul has now found some acceptance, thanks to his new friend Barnabas, into the ranks of the Christian family in the town of Antioch. These were not spiritual lightweights pulling up chairs for a tea party. Here’s the story:
“Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called ‘the black man’), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.’ So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit…”
Okay. So far, so good, and then there is this little add-on:
”John Mark went with them as their assistant.”
Time out. Sounds like God had intended a duet, not a trio, at least to begin with. John Mark is the young nephew of Barnabas. This is only conjecture on my part, but I can see the conversation going something like this:
(The leaders) “You two ready?”
(Paul) “All packed, let’s get going!!” (Paul lived with exclamation points….)
(Barnabas) “Let’s take John Mark. He wants to be brought up in the ranks, has real potential, and needs some field experience.”
How often do we do that today? Encouragers are especially prone to this grandiose mistake! (Ask me how I know…) See potential, want to make a way for that potential, and BOOM!
Outside of God’s timing, potential is potentially dangerous. Apparently, nobody asked God what He thought of John Mark joining the party, and the end result was near disaster later down the road (for yet another blog). For this entry, suffice it to say that encouragers, as important as they are in God’s community, are in dire need of God’s wisdom, and a big part of that is to be careful not to ADD any ingredients to the cake God’s trying to bake.
Acts 13:2-5 Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt) (Kindle Locations 20003-20010). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.