Missionary Church (3)
The church at Antioch was the one from which God would send out the first missionaries. One of the members of this assembly had been “brought up” with Herod. Never was there an example of two so close and so far apart. How we were “brought up” is not as important as in what we allow ourselves to be “caught up.” Manaen was found in church. Herod was lost. We are either a missionary or a mission field. There are only two races.
The best way to “keep the faith” is to give it away. The church, being guided and led by the Holy Spirit, “separated” Barnabas and Saul. This is one of the last times Saul would be called by that name. From this time forward he would be known as Paul. Saul means great, Paul means little. Sometimes we need to become little before we can become great.
Not sooner did these missionaries land on foreign soil but what they were confronted by spiritual forces of darkness. Missionary work is not a vacation. It is not a chance to see the world. Missionary work is no game. First they confronted a sorcerer named Bar (son of) Jesus. This is an interesting name. There are many who have a name that is a derivative of the Name which is above ever name, but a closer look reveals a charlatan.
There are many who will try to turn people “away” than “to” Jesus Christ. They will try to convince people that they are alright the way they are. They might say, “I’m not a Christian, but I am spiritual.” Then there are those religious people who will denigrate the message of salvation as being false or unnecessary when in fact they oppose the church for the same reason the religious leaders opposed the Lord Jesus: envy. (13:45, Mt. 27:17). There are two forces standing against the missionary: supernatural evil, and natural envy. It is hard to determine which is more awful. More missionaries have returned broken from the mission having faced envy then evil. If Satan cannot wound us one way, he will try to strike us with the other.
For this reason missionary work must be seriously considered and only prayerfully undertaken. Short term mission trips may be the thing today. The forces of darkness can tell the difference between a man with a vacation and one with a vocation. If God calls, go. If He does not, please stay home.