Friday, May 11, 2012

Acts 15:36-41

Summary retelling of Acts 15:36-41

After they had been in Antioch for a while, Paul and Barnabas decide to go and revisit the churches that they had started on their prior mission trip.  While making plans, Barnabas wants to bring along John Mark (Barnabas’ cousin) who went with them on their last trip.  Paul remembers that John Mark left them half-way through the trip, so he doesn’t want to take him again.  This turns into an argument and Paul and Barnabas go separate ways.  Barnabas goes to the first churches they made (in Cyprus) while Paul takes Silas and goes to the latter churches (in Galatia – now called Asia Minor or Turkey).

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Paul and Barnabas make plans to revisit the disciples that they had made.  They don’t want these disciples feeling abandoned or left behind.  After all, it wasn’t like it is today where when a pastor leaves a church the church just gets a new pastor.  Churches were expected to grow spiritual leaders from within.  Since that is a long process, it was necessary for Paul and Barnabas to revisit them and see how their spiritual growth was progressing.

Have you ever thought about how much different the church was in those days?  Do you think we would be in a better or worse position if our pastors were expected to spiritually rise up from among us?  What might be some of the advantages?  What might be some of the disadvantages?  In that scenario, why would it be important to have someone like Paul come around periodically to visit the churches? 

Second Thought:
Barnabas wants to bring along his cousin.  You can’t blame Barnabas for wanting to continue to be a presence in his cousin’s growing spiritual life.  Even though John Mark disappointed Barnabas and Paul in the past, there is a chance that he has matured some and is better prepared for the rigors of traveling abroad with Paul and Barnabas.  After all, he does go off with Barnabas to Cyprus.  And he must do alright, because we believe that he is the one Paul talks positively about in Colossians 4:10, 2 Timothy 4:11, and Philemon 24.

What are some of the possible reasons that Barnabas has such faith in his cousin’s ability?  Has someone ever had that kind of faith in you?  Has that faith always been justified at the time or were they going out on a limb for you and you had the task of proving their faith good?

Third Thought:
Paul and Barnabas have a fight.  They split.  Their ministry together is done for the rest of their life.  Even though it appears that Paul and John Mark are able to heal the wound and do ministry together again, we cannot help but be saddened by this story.  Here is a place where two strong spiritual leaders butt heads and things don’t come out that well.  Sure, God is able to use this moment and still make good come about it – the missionary work continues.  But if they were supposed to split up you have got to believe that God would have preferred they split up because of their sense of calling, not because of some argument they couldn’t resolve.

Why is it sad when spiritual leaders cannot see eye to eye?  What does it say about God to the spiritual community when two spiritual leaders cannot work out their differences amicably?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 16:1-5
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