Monday, July 3, 2017

welcome to Splitsville

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Acts 15:36-16:6
mark this: Romans 8:28
"And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Not many of us like arguments. Debate teams are in serious decline in our country. But the Bible and the book of Acts is full of them. The apostles versus the chief priests. The Greek widows versus the Hebrew widows. The chief priests versus Stephen. Peter et al versus the "circumcision happy" crowd. Its not quite Tom and Jerry, but there is a fair amount of tension.
Today's spat may be the most famous one in Acts: Paul versus Barnabas. In a recent blog (June 27th), Franklyn helps us to see much of the back story of this argument. We see how John Mark faltered during Paul & Barnabas' first missionary journey. When the going got tough, John Mark got going, all the way back to Mama (1).
Now after the council in Jerusalem, and some time in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas are ready to begin a second missionary journey. But there is a problem with the team make up, and the problem is with John Mark. After the debacle in Pamphylia, Paul was not ready to have him back on the team. But Barnabas, forever the encourager, wanted to restore his troubled cousin (2).
Paul thought Barnabas was being too soft.
Barnabas thought Paul was being too harsh.
Perhaps they both were right.
In either case, it was Splitsville for the dynamic duo of Paul & Barnabas.
The end of an era, a major blow to this young movement of God.
Or is it?
I am not saying that Paul or Barnabas were completely innocent here. Somewhere there was a failure of trust and communication, that, I am sure, both of them regretted. But that is exactly where God comes in.
Think back to Romans 8:28.
Did both Paul & Barnabas love God? YES
Were both Paul & Barnabas called according to His purpose? YES
Therefore, God worked out even this little quarrel for good.
1. We go from one to two mission teams.
Paul finds a very capable partner in Silas, and they head to Syria.
Barnabas rounds up John Mark and they are off to Cyprus. You say division- I say multiplication.
2. John Mark is both rebuked and restored at the same time.
After the stunt he pulled, Paul could not pretend that everything was peachy.
Yet that bit of cowardice is not the final chapter on John Mark's life, and he graciously gets a second chance. How grateful are we for Paul's comments about John Mark at the end of his life- recognizing this truth (3)
Our God is gloriously sovereign- and able to use everything- including all our blunders and failures and stupidity for His purpose. So next time you think that some sort of roadblock, fall out, relationship failure, or argument has somehow ruined you or God's kingdom in and around you- think again. Some of God's greatest works are directly from our scrapheaps.
(1) Acts
(2) Colossians 4:10
(3) 2 Timothy 4:11

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