Will you commend those with whom you disagree?

Well, my friends, on that one we must part company.  You are just plain wrong…

* After fasting and prayer by the leaders in the church in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas are set apart for the work of the Lord …  Clearly, the Lord had spoken!

13 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said (emphasis, mine), “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

* Early in their journey one of the teammates leaves, forsaking the group.  (And we never are told why, by the way.)

13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.  

* After the successful missionary enterprise and reporting back to the sending church in Antioch, Paul wanted to return to the churches they had begun, strengthening the believers. (Acts 15)

36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”

* Barnabas, his partner, was game and ready to go, except he wanted to take Mark with them, giving Mark another chance. Mark, it turns out, is the cousin of Barnabas.  Paul himself notes this in his letter to the Colossians (4:10). 

* Paul said a BIG NO on taking Mark. You can read about this sharp disagreement at the end of Acts 15.

* Barnabas strongly disagreed and Paul and Barnabas went toe to toe.    Here’s how Eugene Peterson says it in THE MESSAGE:

Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways.

* It does seem pretty clear that Paul is the team leader.  Regardless, they did not reach agreement.  What to do?  Well, split company.  And that’s what they did.  Paul took Silas and Barnabas took Mark.  And guess what?  The church leaders blessed them both!

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 believers to the grace of the Lord.

1.  Believers will disagree.

2.  There will be times we cannot work together. … I know.  It shouldn’t be that way.  But it happens, obviously. 

3.  And yet, in a spirit of humility and collegiality, can we still commend one another … to the grace of the Lord, as Luke writes in verse 40 of Acts 15? 

4.  So, my friends, what are your non-negotiables?  The Apostles’ Creed?  Something else?  Maybe just these 3 words:  “Jesus is Lord!”  Here are at least two of the bottom-line questions:  1. With whom are you willing to dance?  2. Will we remain humble, and open to the work of the Holy Spirit, even when we strongly disagree with other Jesus followers, to the point — sad to say– of parting ways, should it come to that? And, believe me, from time to time, it will. … 


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