Strong Disagreement

Strong Disagreement

22 October 2009


36 After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s return to each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are getting along.” 37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not shared in their work. 39 Their disagreement over this was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. 40 Paul chose Silas, and the believers sent them off, entrusting them to the Lord’s grace. 41 So they traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia to strengthen the churches there. (Acts 15:36-41 NLT)

Barnabas and Paul split up over whether or not to give Barnabas’ nephew John Mark another chance. Paul said, “He quit on us last time. No way he’s going with us!” Barnabas said, “He’s young. He made a mistake. Let’s give him another chance.”

They had been through a lot together. Barnabas had given Paul his chance at Jerusalem and at Antioch. They had planted churches, endured beatings, worked miracles, it had been amazing. Now Barnabas and Paul couldn’t agree – tempers flared and they went separate ways! I don’t know whether to be encouraged by this story or to think, “What chance in the world do we have?! If Barnabas and Paul can’t work out their differences, who can?”

Lessons for me in this story:
• God uses people I don’t agree with!
• God can use me even if others don’t agree with me!
• God uses people who aren’t perfect yet!
• People God uses aren’t perfect yet!

If that seems confusing or repetitive, I make no apology. Those are different lessons.
• It gives me hope to see that people God has used so powerfully can have this level of conflict, fail to resolve it, and still be effective for God. So I realize that God can use me and people like me in spite of ourselves.
• It reminds me that we’re not going to see everything just the same. God uses us not because we agree on every detail, but because we have a heart for his Kingdom and his church.
• It reminds me that we’ve all got a long way to go. Let’s not give up on each other!


Father, thanks for both the honesty and the lessons in this story. I wish it had gone another way. It makes me wonder how the Book of Acts would have read if they could have worked this out. But it didn’t and they still changed the world. And years later, Paul asked John Mark to come and help him. Thanks for Barnabas. Thanks for Paul. Thanks for John Mark. Thanks for not giving up on us. Amen.

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