Pastor's Blog

In Acts 13-15 Paul and Barnabas work their way through several situations where there are deep conflicts of theology. There is the confrontation with the false prophet named Bar-Jesus. There was the jealousy of the Jews in Antioch . . . and unbelieving Jews in Iconium. In Lystra they are mistaken for the mythical gods of Zeus and Hermes. It is someone amazing, but I guess typical of humans, that one day the people of Lystra treated Paul and Barnabas as if they were gods, and the next day they stone Paul and drag him out of their city thinking they have killed him! Chapter 15 relates to us the story of a major council meeting in Jerusalem where the apostles and elders hammer out just what their position should be in regards to Gentiles becoming Christians. Through all these circumstances, Barnabas and Paul are united . . . they are committed to each other and to the spreading of the gospel. . . they are rock solid in their doctrine about Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God.

However, Acts 15 ends with Acts 15:39

They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,

The disagreement was about Mark. Mark had accompanied Barnabas and Paul for a short time, but had left them because of homesickness. Paul was done working with Mark. He had no mercy or patience for quitters. Barnabas on the other hand, the ultimate encourager, thought everyone deserved a second chance (including a man named Saul who persecuted and jailed Christians before he was encountered by Jesus on the road to Damascus) As I read the story here in Acts 15 I have a memory of a kid who lived in our neighborhood when I was growing up. Sometimes he would come to our house to play ball with us - baseball, football, or basketball . . . depending on the time of year. Sometimes he would bring his ball. He often had better balls than we did, so his ball would become the game ball. There were some occasions when he didn’t like the teams that were picked. And his remedy for the situation was to say – “give me my ball, I am going home.” If it wasn’t going the way he wanted it to he just wasn’t going to play with us anymore. It may have interrupted our game for a moment, but I don’t remember it ever stopping us from playing. We simply found another ball and kept going. That is what Barnabas did. Paul you can throw a tizzy fit if you want, but I am going on and I am taking Mark with me . . .

Now God used that moment – now there were two missionary teams moving through the region to plant churches. But that was probably not the way that God intended for it to happen. Jesus had spent time teaching on how to handle conflict. The Lord knew that the thing that would cause the most problems in the church would not be doctrine, it would be personal conflict. That is what divided Paul and Barnabas. Paul mellowed with the passing of time and the better comprehension of grace . . . in fact, later on he would ask that Mark be sent to see him because he had become such a help to Paul in ministry. Perhaps Paul had this moment in mind when he wrote to the Philippians a few years later Philip. 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. [4] Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I read an article a while back in which the author said that the number one hindrance to church growth is interpersonal conflict. It doesn’t have to be that way, nor should it be. The story of Barnabas and Paul remind us how vulnerable we are. Disputes will divide. Unless we are sensitive, and humble as well.

A couple of quotes to think about

“It is often more important to be loving than to be right.”

“I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other, and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we could reach them. I now find that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other. It is not a question of growing taller, but of stooping down, to get His best gifts.”—F.B. Meyer

Suggested Readings To Read Through The Bible In A Year

Wed.  April 6, 2011   Deut. 26-27, Acts 15, Psalm 82 Prov. 6

Thur.  April 7, 2011   Deut. 28, Gal. 1-2, Psalm 83, Prov. 7

Fri.     April 1, 2011   Deut. 29-30, Gal.3-4, Psalm 84, Proverbs8

Sat.    April 2, 2011   Deut. 31-32, Gal. 5-6, Psalm 85, Prov. 9

Sun.   April 3, 2011   Deut. 33-34, Acts 16, Psalm 86, Prov.10

Mon.  April 4, 2011   Josh 1-3, Phil. 1-2, Psalm 87, Prov. 11

Tues. April 5, 2011   Josh. 4-5, Phil. 3-4, Psalm 88, Prov. 12




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