They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. —Acts 15:39
Ever been in such a sharp disagreement that you and the person you were disagreeing with went your separate ways? Sometimes people feel so strongly about a situation that they are willing to part ways over it. It can take place with a family member, a relative, in the workplace or at school and in the church. It can happen with people you have known for a brief time or that you have known for decades.
The context of the verse above is speaking about Paul and Barnabas. These two men had served together, had been close to death together and they had seen the Lord work wonderfully together. At the end of the mission the church in Antioch sent them out on, had commissioned them on, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done. These two men had been through much together.
Yet, when Paul and Barnabas were going to go back later and do follow-up to see how those who believed were doing, they had a sharp disagreement over John Mark. Barnabas wanted to take him along with them, but Paul did not because the previous time he traveled with Paul and Barnabas he “deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work” (Acts 13:13; 15:39). These men went their separate ways. Barnabas took John Mark and went west to Cyprus. Paul took Silas and headed north to Syria and then to Cilicia.
Later there gives indication that there had been resolution at some point because Paul said, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (II Timothy 4:11). Sadly resolution among those who profess the name of Jesus Christ doesn’t seem to happen very often— at least not in my life’s sphere of travel. Usually when Christians have a sharp disagreement, or even just a disagreement, they just go their separate ways and don’t even seek to be reconciled over the area they had disagreed on. It appears we have a very low value in relationships at times. This is sad and such a poor testimony to the world.
I was recently talking with a brother who had a real concern that a church that was planted by the church he attends had a disagreement of some sort. Now those attending at the church plant are not even welcome at the church that planted them— not even at Bible studies or Conferences! How sad is that?
We live in a fallen world and unfortunately, even in the church there can be disagreements which are not handled well even over much time. I am grateful for the example here today where there was resolution and Paul saw John Mark as a valuable part of the ministry. That had surely not always been the case.
Have you had a falling out with someone? Have you attempted to be reconciled? Have you been to the person or church to talk about the situation? You are responsible for the part the Lord desires of you to do. Others are responsible for their part. Are you doing your part? May it be so!
Dear Father, when disagreement happens, may we seek to work through it properly according to Your will. Help us not to just go our separate ways and never deal with the situation. May we do what is pleasing in Your sight and in Jesus Name.