SUNDAY, AUGUST 17, 2014
‘The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.’ Acts 11:22-24
IN relation to the priestly ministry, faith, Holy Spirit and good reputation is very essential and so the priest must jealously guard himself in order not to make a mess of himself in the ministry and in the eyes of the people. His position and the enhancement of his work are much more than paper qualification and material benefits accruable to his office. People would like to see him as a man of God with reputation, faith and Holy Spirit.
We thank God, a living church is always thinking seriously about those who do the work of ministry particularly as all ‘manner of persons’ in the recent past have entered the ministry of the church. For the Anglican ministry, in some quarters, some claim to have been called by God and so, at ordination services, when a Bishop poses such a question: ‘Do you believe, so far as you know in your own heart, that God has called you to the Office and Work of a Deacon/Priest in this Church?’ Such people answer: ‘I believe that God has called me.’ But what is seen subsequently at the mission field puts a question mark on some of such claims, as we have recorded sometimes scandals bordering on: Immorality, Embezzlement of church fund, Witchcraft activities, Idolatry, Fighting over positions/postings/gifts at the altar and Petition writing among others.
The early church knew the calibre of persons they were looking for in the work of ministry and they simply went for them. Such people gave credibility to the work of the church. It was in this mould that we find our character: Joseph whom the early church surnamed Barnabas. You begin to imagine what made Barnabas distinct in the New Testament church. Let us read Acts 11:22-24: ‘The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.’
The Bible recorded that the disciples had been scattered all over the Mediterranean coastlands after the persecution of Stephen. Some went about 400 miles north to Antioch and preached to Gentiles. A great number believed (according to verse 21) and this news reached the church in Jerusalem. This is where verse 22 picks up.
Notice, when the news came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem they sent Barnabas to Antioch. Then, consideration was not based on paper qualification or eloquence in the ministry, but what the church needed at that material time was someone to encourage those who were being persecuted, a man of credible character with these intricate elements (reputation, faith and Holy Spirit). The lot fell on Barnabas.
Reputation – for he was a good man. (i) Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you; it is earned by convincing your peers that you know what you’re talking about. (ii) The beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something, for example, “his reputation was tarnished by allegations of bribery” (iii) a widespread belief that someone or something has a particular characteristic, for example, “his knowledge of his subject earned him a reputation as an expert.”
Therefore, it is to be noted that a priest without reputation may not go too far in the ministry.