Acts 15:22-41; Judges 1; Job 33
Barnabas means “son of encouragement.” The name was given to him by the apostles because he sold all that he had and gave it to the church to help the poor. When he vouched for Saul, the one who had formerly persecuted the church, Saul was accepted. When the Jerusalem church needed someone to check out the happenings in Antioch, they sent Barnabas. While there, Barnabas brought Saul, who became known as Paul, into the ministry. When Antioch sent out missionaries, they could think of no one better to send than Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas was forgiving, encouraging and supportive and so, when Paul suggested they set out again to visit the churches they had established on their first trip, Barnabas, true to his nature wanted to take Mark along. Mark had deserted them along the way during the first journey and Paul didn’t like the idea. So Paul and Barnabas fought about it. “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.” (Acts 15:39-40) Yes, the early church had disagreements – but even these disagreements brought growth! Paul and Silas became a new missionary team as did Barnabas and Mark. The gospel of Mark has been attributed to Mark, although that‘s a disputed issue. Barnabas was right in seeking to restore Mark after his errors. Paul, meanwhile, continued to spread the gospel with Silas. They went to towns that might have been left of the itinerary if Barnabas and Paul had gone together – since the original plan was just to visit those towns they had already gone to. So what do we learn? Disagreements are not always bad, perhaps I should say that the results of disagreements are not always bad, when we put them in God’s hands. It’s never wrong to seek to restore a brother or sister to a place of service. We must be ready to share the gospel in known and unknown (to us) places. Can we disagree with each other? Of course. We will. No doubt. But we can agree to lay our disagreements before God and seek His guidance through each and every step of the way while dealing with the disagreement.
Lord God, I know that I will have disagreements on the way Your work should be done. I tend to be opinionated and overbearing when I believe that I know what You want. Remind me that those who disagree with me may be doing so because You are leading them in a different direction. Help us to resolve any difference in a way that honors Your name.