9:26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
Saul's early experiences as a believer underline a very real truth - our past follows us. In Damascus the Jews were confounded by his sudden switch. In Jerusalem they were afraid of him. One minute he was rounding up the followers of Jesus and throwing them in prison. Now he is preaching Jesus? The change was too quick. The memories were too fresh. Trust doesn't come that easily. A man may stop drinking but that doesn't mean people stop seeing him as a drunk. A woman may stop sleeping around but her reputation will still linger. Liars may reform but that doesn't mean anyone will believe them. This phenomenon is real and not all bad. What if Saul was just using a new tactic to hunt the faithful? What if we was trying to infiltrate so he could find out how who was really involved in this "new heresy"? Jesus never commanded us to trust everyone all the time.
Sin of any kind breaks down trust. Trust is hard to rebuild. The more severe the violation, the more difficult it is to rebuild.
God provides a bridge. His name is Barnabas. Later he becomes known as the Son of Encouragement. He is one of those guys who is a bridge builder. He sees the potential in everyone. He believes in people. He is loved and trusted by everyone. Barnabas becomes the bridge that allows Saul into the church. People begin to allow themselves to entertain the idea they can trust Saul because they trust Barnabas.
Have you ever had someone believe in you when no one else did? Have you ever built a bridge for someone else? Trust restored is a beautiful thing because it is so rare. Deep down we want to see the happy ending after a broken relationship because it awakens hope in us. It helps us believe for better things. It builds bridges.
One of the most important reasons to feed on the stories of Jesus' life is because He was the ultimate bridge builder. He saw potential and value in absolutely everyone. He changed lives no one thought could ever be changed. If you lack hope, look to Him. Every. Day.