In light of everything that has been going on this week, I have been reading and meditating on Acts 15.
Paul and Barnabas were two mighty men of God. They had preached together and had seen many miraculous signs. Paul, the straight forward Apostle and Barnabas, the encouraging Pastor. They seemed like the perfect match…until they weren’t.
At the end of Acts 15 the dream team had an argument so contentious it caused them to split.
Paul and Barnabas had decided to go back and strengthen the churches previously visited. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark, his cousin. Paul refused to take John Mark because Mark had left them on a previous trip. They disagreed so vehemently, they decided to part ways.
My questions are: How can two mature Christians, who love Jesus, have a public argument over something that seems so trivial? Who was right in that situation? How do we handle dissension in the Body of Christ?
Here are my answers:
1. A powerful message accompanied with signs and wonders does not make people perfect. We are all human. We all are being perfected by a loving perfect God who allows us to participate in our imperfections. So that is how these two men, each with powerful anointings could argue. They were human.
2. Sometimes there are no bad guys in the story. Paul saw the situation as an Apostle. Completing the mission was most important to him. Barnabas saw the situation as a pastor. Restoring people was most important. Who was right? They both were.
3. So what do we do when dissension enters our perfect Christian worlds (and it will)?
a) Choose to love imperfect people as if they were perfect.
b) Don’t look for a villain. Don’t create a villain.
c) Trust the redeeming power of God.
What happened after this split between Paul and Barnabas?
Paul and Silas went on to preach the gospel. So did John Mark and Barnabas. The Gospel was spread even more rapidly.
The young man, Paul didn’t want to take with him, went on to write the Gospel of Mark.
Paul would later refer to John Mark as a coworker who was helpful to his ministry.
Dissension in the Body of Christ should be an oxymoron. Unfortunately, it is not. When it happens, let us be led by the Spirit and not by emotions. Let us grieve with those who grieve. Let us honor all of those involved. Let us pray more than we talk. But most importantly, let Hope arise that God will redeem and restore the situation beautifully and wonderfully for everyone who is involved.
This my prayer for all of us:
“Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!”
Romans 15:13 TPT