“When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.” – Acts 9:26-27 (NLT)
God wants us to love Him but also to love others. You will never love someone you refuse to fellowship with… love and fellowship are a choice.
In today’s scripture passage, Saul of Tarsus is trying to get connected with other believers. It was not too long before this that Saul was present and in approval of the killing of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. From that killing, Saul spent his next days trying to arrest Christians and having them thrown in jail. But something amazing happened… Saul had an encounter with Jesus Christ and became a true believer. This former Christian killer soon realized he needed to not only be in fellowship with Christ but also needed to be in fellowship with other believers.
When the believers in Jesus (who had been great friends of Stephen and those jailed) were told Saul wanted to meet with them, they first chose NOT to do it. Whether they were afraid for their lives or still upset about the death of Stephen, for whatever reason they made a choice and that choice was NOT to fellowship with Saul. Barnabas interceded for Saul and was able not only to bring about the meeting, but joyously witnessed Saul being accepted into the fellowship of believers.
Saul had to make a choice to humble himself and pursue the relationship with believers. The believers had to make a choice to humble themselves and embrace the one who used to kill and arrest Christians. The result of these choices was that Saul grew in the Lord, was called to be a missionary, and started many churches as he traveled and told people about Jesus.
How about you? Do you need to make the choice to pursue fellowship with other Christians? If you are active in attending church, are you choosing to connect heart to heart with people or are you just enduring them as you faithfully attend? God wants more than us just showing up for church, He wants us to express love and pursue fellowship. How do you respond when someone new shows up at church or in your Bible Fellowship Group? Do you just sit there, not making the effort to get up, not choosing to introduce yourself and make them feel comfortable and welcome? Talk to God today about these things. Who knows… your willingness to fellowship might result in someone growing in the Lord and becoming a great missionary or church leader just like Saul.