By CRAIG HARRIS
Acts 15: 36 – 41 (NIV): 36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
We might be tempted to think that it was smooth for the early Christians as they began the ministry of the church. But we shouldn’t. We should remember that it was difficult. We should remember that they suffered and were persecuted and even martyred for their faith. And we also see in this passage that they had sharp disagreements with each other.
Paul and Barnabas are both heroes of the faith and of the early church. They are both called apostles. They both won many souls to Christ. But they also had such a major disagreement that they no longer worked together. Barnabas wanted to take his cousin Mark along on their second missionary journey. But Paul remembered that Mark had left them during the first one. We don’t know why Mark went back home to Jerusalem, but Paul felt he should not go with them on the second journey.
Barnabas, whose name means “Son of Encouragement”, wanted to give Mark another chance. Paul wouldn’t hear of it. So Barnabas and Mark went on one mission trip and Paul and Silas went on another. Isn’t it interesting that God used their disagreement to double the mission effort? God is always up to something good.
Paul and Mark would eventually reconcile. We know this because Colossians 4 tells us that Mark was with him when he was in prison in Rome. Did Paul and Barnabas reconcile? We can assume they did since Paul and Mark did. However, we don’t find them on any other mission trips together. Ministry has never been smooth. And disagreements happen, but God is able to use us even in our weaknesses. We may not always agree on everything, but God can still use us if we will just try.