"When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas..." Acts 9:26, NAS95.
The center of this chapter in Acts is the conversion of Saul to Paul. The story is told a number of ways throughout the book because it is the most unlikely conversion in history, and one of the great proofs of Christianity. How is it that a person, so opposed to Christianity, could become a follower? This question was in everyone's mind after his conversion.
The story would not be complete without a couple of people, Ananias and Barnabas. While no one else was willing to take a chance on Paul, these two, one reluctantly and one whole heartedly, made the decision he was worth risking their lives over.
Imagine how different the gospel story would be if someone didn't have the heart to see past Paul's previous life and be willing to embrace him as a brother. How many other stories have been unwritten because others did not have the eyes to see the potential of God in others?
I envision a faith community full of people like Ananias and Barnabas who are looking for the outsiders and those that are isolated or marginalized by others. The easiest way to do this is during our gatherings. Instead of grouping with friends, we can look for those not being incorporated and bring them into our circle.
No one knows the stories that will be written in heaven as we become the "includers" of others. Let's look past the veneer of sin and natural attraction and include the next Paul into our life and ministry.
Have a wonderful day.