Weekly Sabbath Survey
Believers Disagreeing — 11-15-2014
Today we will explore a sort of dark side to Christian life and the ministry. It isn’t talked about so much. We ponder it, pray about it, but there seems to be few answers for what goes on. One good example recorded in Scripture is the story of Paul and Barnabas. God spoke to the congregation at Antioch to send these two men out into the mission field. [Acts 13:1-3]
They went, had great exploits, but even these two very anointed men got into a quarrel, not over doctrine as we usually do, but over a younger man who had traveled with them. John Mark started out with them, but went back home before the trip was finished. Later, as they prepared to go again, Barnabas wanted to give John Mark another chance. But Paul didn’t trust him. The argument was so heated they parted company right then, and there is no further mention in Scripture that they ever worked together again. Paul took Silas. Barnabas took John Mark, who showed himself faithful in the Lord and the work. He also wrote the Gospel of Mark. [Acts 15:36-41]
We all want others to be perfect, to practice what they preach, never mess up. The bitter truth is: none of us is perfect! When our disagreements are so strong we cannot continue in fellowship, I believe this is best, as in the case of Paul and Barnabas. The ministry moved on. God was magnified. And even when we don’t have fellowship it doesn’t mean we don’t have relationship. Kin by the blood of Jesus, even if we never speak to one another again. I operate in this truth, and over the years some damaged friendships have been mended when the other person has felt this same way.
It really hurts to be misunderstood or not fully accepted by the people we love. But if we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we cannot avoid this part. He was rejected, and we will be, too. Many years ago, a person that I had been in close company with, someone I loved dearly, spearheaded a move against me with a number of others. I was never angry about this, because I knew I had faults. But I was very hurt, as I was reviled, accused and called names. It was a small town we lived in and some of the people involved would cross the street to keep from speaking even to the members of my family. My children were confused and separated from good friends. The humiliation and embarrassment was awful, but I was even more grieved over the black eye we were giving the ministry of Jesus. In my heart, I felt like all the people in town who thought all of us may have gone crazy with our zeal for the Lord, must now be convinced of it.
The consequences for my family were devastating. The ripples went on for years. But I am certain and sure nothing can keep us from our destiny in Jesus, as long as we keep pursuing it. It took awhile for me to get back on my feet, but with the Lord, all things are possible! I have forgiven those people, been forgiven by the Lord, and moved on.
It seems the opportunity for disagreements and splits is always around. Some of the time, it is caused by people seeing faults in others and becoming blinded to the ministry of God through them; or we disagree over doctrine, or how the ministry should be done. When this happens, I like to go with the guy who said, “I’m not arguing! I’m Jewish.” Arguing is angry, but disagreeing is Jewish! These people never lose sight of the fact that they are kin.
Believers need to know and believe they are KIN by the blood of Jesus: brothers and sisters in the Lord. We let things get out of hand when one or both parties doesn’t fight fair and/or gets angry. Talking behind someone’s back is ‘dirty pool’ and the coward’s way out. We should gently confront them to their face with our gripes. When we are doing all we can to stay calm and it still goes way south anyway, we must do what Jesus did: On the cross He said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”
And now, what about John Mark, the rejected-by-Paul disciple? See here:
Make every effort to visit me soon. Demas has forsaken me, Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalamtia. Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you, for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (Paul writing to Timothy from prison in Rome, shortly before his death.) 2 Timothy 4:9-11
Charlene Reams Manning
Believer in the Lord Jesus Messiah
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