Monday, June 23, 2008

Acts: Disagreement (15:36-41)

Paul and Barnabas’ “sharp” disagreement has got to be one of the most referred to stories in Bible. It is used to justify infighting among church members. It is used to show the possibility that more than one opinion can be “right.” It is used to show how disagreements and even fights can advance God’s will and the Kingdom. The John Mark angel is used to show how people should be given more and more “second” chances.
The story is quite simple. Paul and Barnabas decide to take another trip and retread the route of their previous journey “encouraging” the believers in the churches they had helped start. The have a fight and one trip becomes two separate ones when Paul refuses to take John Mark with them. In the end, Paul takes Silas and the “reunion” trip breaks new ground and becomes the second missionary journey.
The Bible does not directly say this, but it appears as though the argument between Paul and Barnabas was wrong, but the end result achieved is not. The fight could have been avoided if Paul and Barnabas had set out from the beginning to expand and strengthen the missionary endeavor. It all rests on things like: gifting, equipping, and strategy.
Paul’s gifting was that of a pioneer. He was uniquely equipped to start new work and take the Gospel where it had not gone before. Barnabas was the encourager. He was better suited to truly retread their previous journey and help the new churches grow and strengthen. They both needed to invest their lives in other workers. It seems Paul learns this later on as he takes on an ever larger team of co-workers. Finally, it makes more strategic sense to divide the team and increase the impact of their efforts.

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