The passage in Acts 11:22-26 talks about what happens in Antioch, when Barnabas traveled a far distance, that he was able to experience and witness many great things such as the disciples were first called Christians, and seeing Paul being encouraged and became a great apostle later on.
So the question is, what if Barnabas did not make it that far to Antioch? What would he have missed out?
He would have missed out on all the blessings as shown in verses 23-26. In fact, this was a powerful presence that became unrivaled for centuries. It was the city of Antioch first to be called Christians, to be responsible for the manuscripts for King James Bible. Besides, Antioch was also the first city that fulfilled God’s calling for soul winning and great evangelism during the early centuries where Christianity was still under heavy influence and corruption by the Catholic system and Pagan Alexandrian schools.
This should be used in application on our walk with Christ, how far did we go?
Acts 11:23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
Had not Barnabas traveled all the way to Antioch, he would not have beheld and seen God’s presence working within the church.
So how far is considered enough to behold God’s presence?
Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul was able to press toward his mark for the prize of the highest calling from God. What is our calling? What are we called to fulfill in God’s name? Do we even bother to behold the distance in between ourselves and God, and thus to go as far as we can for God?
Yes, some of us do behold the distance, but sometimes we may be overwhelmed or intimidated by the long distance, and the enormous amount of effort that is required of us. Nonetheless, we should behold God’s presence, not the distance.
For example, professional athletes tend to focus on the finish line and the prize, rather than the obstacles in between. They take it one step at a time, knowing what are their priorities and ultimately what they want to achieve. This goes in line with the Bible and how we should be walking with Christ. Serving the savior of our Lord Jesus Christ should be our goal, and His blessings are our prizes.
In contrast, many quitters often focus on the gaps, the challenges, and obstacles that already discourage them right from the beginning before they even take their first step.
What separates those who walk a great distance versus those who fear a great distance is simply the difference in desire and affection, whether we are focusing on spiritual affection or fleshly desire.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2 is also a good verse as a reminder and advice. Hindrance is a nuisance, so get rid of hindrances in our lives, and focus on one thing; Lord Jesus Christ. No amount of worldliness and its matter should take our attention away from God’s words.
It is all about prioritizing the right thing.
Acts 11:24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
Just as how serving God willfully, exceedingly, and consistently will boost His presence, He will also boost us and our walk through the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 9:26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
Paul runs with certainty and direction and is known to have achieved so much for the Lord. Yet the message here is to tell us that Paul did not start off by running with such pace and intensity. In fact, he actually started with walking first and slowly building up his momentum.
This should also apply to all of us, learn to walk first before we start running. The Bible talks about feeding ourselves with milk first then only meat.
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Plenty of other verses talk about walking with Christ, not running. So this implies that we should do things one step at a time because in most cases, patience and consistency really are a virtue!
By taking the first step to walk, we will eventually learn how to walk right, and then start taking the first step to run, and eventually learn how to run mightily, thus that’s how we boost the presence of the Lord.
Hebrews 10:25 reminds us that rapture can happen anytime soon, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ’s second coming will be at any moment. If we have a sense of urgency, we need to know that walking is primarily an important step that leads to more great works.
Nonetheless, Galatians 5:17 talks about what possibly hinders us, and the best way to overcome those hindrances is to take a proactive approach to remove them, and not to wait for them to disappear on their own.
Acts 11:25-26 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Did we go far enough to bring God’s presence in our lives, or even in other’s lives?
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
We all fall short of God’s presence, and the Bible clearly states that we will never do enough for God, there is always room for improvement, and that we should strive for perfection even if we won’t be perfect.
One thing to keep in mind is that no matter how zealous we think we are, we should never be content with ourselves or how much we have done, or even to compare with brethren or sister that has done so much less than us.
We are no different from anyone who has literally not done anything for the Lord if we continue to stagnate in our walk, and to not seek further improvement in sanctification.
Pastor considers this as lukewarm Christians.
We need to think more like Jesus Christ, He came to earth and set a perfect example of how we should live our lives. By simply abiding in Him and following His footsteps, we will be assured to walk quite far.
Up till this point, hopefully, all of us have had the opportunity to assess how far have we come?
The question now is not how far did you go, but how far will we go for the Lord?