Acts 15: 36-41
38“But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them (Acts 13:13) in Pamphylia and had not shared in their work. 39Their disagreement over this was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. 40Paul chose Silas, and the believers sent them off, entrusting them to the Lord’s grace. So, they travelled throughout Syria and Cilicia to strengthen the churches there.
Stu preached and amazing message on the first 36 verses of this chapter on Sunday (10th June 2018). You may like to listen to his message either on the App or the website (www.church.nu). If you haven’t heard the sermon, it’s a cracker as they say. It’s highly instructional and inspirational and tackles the issue of conflict in the church and how the Apostles had to deal with conflict in the early church right from the beginning.
My reading of Acts 15 today stirred me to reflect on the way that Luke says that Paul and Barnabas had a ‘sharp disagreement’ (I think that Luke is softening this a bit). I reckon that the disagreement was a real wing dinger. I can’t imagine either of these two men having soft personalities. It was Barnabas who actually brought Paul ‘out of the shadows after his conversion, into the light (Acts 9:27ff)’ and stood up for him when everyone was doubting Saul/Paul’s conversion. Barnabas and Paul have evangelised the area beyond Samaria as recorded in their first missionary journey (Acts 13,14,15). They’d experienced so much together, both good and bad, for the sake of the Good News of Jesus Christ and for the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. What I noted here was that this disagreement however didn’t end the Acts 1:8 mandate – as we call it at Newlife.
I can learn a lot from this Chapter 15 – dealing with various conflicts as a church AND dealing with conflicts as an individual. I love the response from the sending church in Antioch – they sent Paul and Silas AND Barnabas and John Mark off on their next missionary journey entrusting them to the Lord’s grace. How awesome is that? The conflict didn’t destroy the effectiveness of the Gospel. In fact the effectiveness was multiplied and Barnabas now was moving into an area of ministry for himself. The Holy Spirit and the Church entrusted them to the Lord’s grace. I hope we can learn how to do this the next time we are in a conflict situation in the Church and in our relationships.
Holy Spirit lead us to working towards healthy ways of dealing with conflict. May we be ministers of your grace in every endeavour. Instruct us through the Living Word, Jesus, with wisdom, love and forgiveness for the sake of your Gospel to offer life and salvation to all people, so they may come into relationship with Jesus our Shepherd and Lord. God may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.