“Where two or three are gathered…” The rest of this verse ends with “God is in their midst.” But today I think of humans and their ability to readily disagree on just about everything. In our passage today, Barnabas had a good idea. Paul had a good idea. Both in agreement with what God commanded, “Go and make disciples…”. The disagreement came when Barnabas, “The Encourager” by nature, wanted to take John Mark a young man who had messed up earlier on the journey and ran back home. Paul doesn’t’ want to take the time to nurture John Mark, so these two powerful men divided the mission. Barnabas went one direction and Paul took Silas and went another direction. They agreed to disagree and God’s work moved forward.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN?
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28, NIV
As long as we live and work alongside others, disagreements with happen. Most disagreements are man or circumstance produced but Paul will write later, “God works all things good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose”. God is all powerful, knows who we are, knows how we respond in good times and bad, knows our abilities and CALLS us to join Him in His work regardless of our short falls and lack of insight. In disagreements, agree on Who Jesus is and what God wants. The rest will be sorted out by God later.
Notice that Paul only disagreed with ways and means of ministry but did not attack the spirituality of Barnabas. The love of God in Paul and Barnabas was still intact. Read that again. Pause. Reflect. When someone disagrees on methods of how to proceed with a project, the evil one will jump right into our thinking and conversations with whispers of putdowns for the one who disagrees with us. Satan loves it when we disagree. He will fill our minds with thinking less of those who disagree. Satan helps us to build a “case” against them so we can “win”. But who wins, really? Satan, who is a liar and wants to stop all things of God.
When the disagreement turns to attack on the Body of Christ, Satan jumps in, loading both barrels of accusations to shoot down the opposition. Evil loves it when the Body falls out of unity of purpose. The disagreement escalates and relationships are fractured to the point of death. Don’t fall for it. Agree to disagree and move on with what God has ask us to do. God is more powerful than evil. His work done in Jesus Name for His glory will prevail over human disagreements. Always.
ACTS—God’s Acts through His Disciples
Barnabas and Paul Go Their Separate Ways
30-33 And so off they went to Antioch. On arrival, they gathered the church and read the letter. The people were greatly relieved and pleased. Judas and Silas, good preachers both of them, strengthened their new friends with many words of courage and hope. Then it was time to go home. They were sent off by their new friends with laughter and embraces all around to report back to those who had sent them.
35 Paul and Barnabas stayed on in Antioch, teaching and preaching the Word of God. But they weren’t alone. There were a number of teachers and preachers at that time in Antioch.
36 After a few days of this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.”
37-41 Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to put grit in those congregations.
God’s work didn’t skip a beat. Agree to disagree on method while remembering the purpose to which God has called us. May God give us wisdom on this journey to help others find and follow Him always. Go with God.
Thank you for this reminder of how a disagreement can turn ugly if we allow it. Help us to always ask what You want and proceed with what you have asked us to do. Help us to find ways of loving and serving You and others well as Your Body. Give us wisdom to know when to speak with words that are helpful not harmful to what you have called us to be and do…
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen!