Text: Acts 13:1-52, Galatians 3:10-14, Isaiah 49:6
They had been given a great responsibility. Paul and Barnabas knew what was at stake and that at any moment their lives could be taken from them. But God had given them a task: to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the nations.
What an emotional roller coaster they must have experienced those few weeks in Pisidian Antioch. One week they proclaimed the truth that Jesus is the promised Messiah, and the people were receptive to their message. So much so, they invited Paul and Barnabas to speak again. I envision Paul and Barnabas as they headed away from the crowd, jumping for joy and praising God for the incredible response from that day.
The next week, the whole city turned out to hear the word of the Lord (Acts 13:44). Can you imagine? It must have been so encouraging for Paul and Barnabas to realize the part they were playing in spreading the message of Christ.
But then it happened. The Jews became filled with jealousy (Acts 13:45). They began to oppose Paul and Barnabas and their message.
This wasn’t the first time Paul and Barnabas had faced opposition to the gospel message (Acts 9:29). Had they given up at the first sign of trouble, they would have missed out on participating in the incredible work God was doing in spreading the good news.
Paul and Barnabas were able to withstand the emotional highs and lows they faced throughout their ministry because they were resolved in their task, and they knew God was with them. They were confident God had called them to preach the message of Christ to the Gentiles. Regardless of what happened, they would do their very best to remain faithful.
God has given all of us tasks as well. He has placed them on each of our hearts and calls us to complete them. Maybe it’s a short-term task, changing daily. Or maybe it’s long-term, spanning the days and weeks and months ahead.
Whatever our unique calling, God doesn’t expect our perfection, but He does desire our faithfulness. As God used Paul and Barnabas to proclaim the truth of Scripture to the people in Pisidian Antioch, He has called each of us to be part of His saving work on this earth.
Even so, the outcome is not up to us. Paul and Barnabas were faithful. They may have felt like they had failed when the Jews rejected their message. But in His sovereignty, God used what seemed like failure to bring many Gentiles to Himself.
Friends, let us keep pressing on. Let us aim to be faithful to God’s calling, and learn to let go of our own expectations for perfection. We can rest easy in this truth: we are ultimately not responsible for the outcome of our efforts. That lies in the hands of our incredibly powerful and overwhelmingly sovereign God.