Throughout today’s passage we see multiple pictures of courageous obedience to God’s command and call. Initially we see it in the opening posture of the group who were worshipping and fasting and then in response to the Holy Spirit’s leading to set apart Paul and Barnabas. They are obedient and willing to release them and Barnabas and Saul are obedient in going. They are obedient to the request of the proconsul to share with him the word of God (v7) and they are obedient the request of the leaders who ask them to speak (v15). Paul stands up and speaks openly about Jesus and his role in the fulfilment of God’s salvation story. Their journey isn’t without dissenters and persecution and in the end they are thrown out of the region by the Jewish leaders yet despite this, they were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
In this passage we see in the many people who were amazed at their teaching and wanted to hear more, not only the fruit that comes from obedience to God, we also get a sense of the inner joy in Paul and Barnabas as they participate in this work. There was sacrifice as they were called to leave their community and there was suffering as persecution was stirred up against them, yet they were filled with joy and content in their obedience to God’s will.
Are we filled with joy despite suffering and sacrifice? Do we respond to the leading of the Spirit. I have found an incredible contentment when I walk in line with the Spirit’s leading. I know who I am, I know what I am called to and I know what I am not called to. I am not called to preach to the whole world, or solve every issue of injustice in our world. I am simply called to be God’s person, in God’s place, doing what God has called me to do, trusting God to take care of everything else. Staying within this space brings deep contentment and joy. What might God be calling you to today? Ask God to develop a joyful obedience and contentment in you as you seek to engage in His mission in the world.