Daily Thought - God Is In The Details Of Our Disagreements

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care. Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there. – Acts 15: 36-41 (NLT)

    No matter how spiritual one might seem, at the end of the day they must walk in the same flesh as the rest of us. They must fight the same biases, sin tendencies, and pride. If there is one thing we can be sure of after death and taxes, it is that people will always disagree. I am always amazed when I see two people look at the same exact thing, yet reach opposite conclusions. That is life and human nature however. Yet despite our tendency to disagree we do not always need to be so disagreeable about it. The Word of God must always be non-negotiable but after that, we need to learn to agree to disagree and continue on in the plans the Lord has for us. Not everyone has the same path beloved. Sometimes our paths leave people we love and move away from people we have spent years ministering with. We can find ourselves wondering or wandering as we hold onto the very things and people God is trying to get us to let go of. We like familiarity and are adverse to change so it is not wonder that we end up fighting these moments in our lives. We have to hold onto the promise God has made to us that He is working it all out for our good:

    And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8: 28 (NLT)

    Even those uncertain moments in our lives – God is working it out for our good. Those moments of change where we might have to leave everything behind that we are comfortable with – God is working it out for our good. These truths exist always, even within our disagreements. This brings us to the story behind the key verses for today. Paul has finished his first missionary journey and is ready to embark on his second. But a funny thing happens first in that he has a profound disagreement with his partner, Barnabas. It seems Barnabas wanted to bring along John Mark and Paul did not because he had “deserted them” on the first journey. Within this little exchange are some timeless truths God is trying to impart to us regarding disagreements in Christian living.

    The first truth is that it does not matter the level of one’s spirituality – disagreements are a part of life. I think sometimes in the church we can play the super-spiritual game and think that we are so above things that every answer has to start with hallelujah. Paul and Barnabas had just spent six years in the mission field together. They had established churches and spread the Gospel. Paul himself had been personally converted by Christ! I do not think anyone can question their religious credentials. Yet here we find them “sharply disagreeing. When we find ourselves in a disagreement, we should not take it as an indictment of our spirituality. As said before, the only non-negotiable is Scripture.

    Secondly, sometimes it is wise to part ways. Yes we are all on the same journey beloved but we do not all take the same path. Sometimes God cannot take us to the next level until we leave some people. Sometimes they cannot move to their next level until they leave us. Once again, we cannot hold onto the very people God is trying to separate us from. It also does not mean the separation is permanent. Years later we find Paul and Mark together again;

    Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. – Colossians 4: 10 (NLT)

    So over a decade later, while Paul finds himself in prison and heading to his end here on earth, we find John Mark again at his side. God brought their paths back together once again. We can always be sure that the paths God leads us down are for His glory and our well being. When we cannot see His plan we can always trust His heart.

    Thirdly, there are unseen things God wants to accomplish through our willingness to accept change, even through disagreement. We see in the key verses that Paula and Barnabas plan was to go back to the churches they had established to strengthen them. Once they split up however, Paul and Silas take a different route and guess what God had planned for them:

    Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. – Acts 16: 1 (NLT)

    Without the argument, Paul does not meet Timothy as God had planned. Timothy does not join Paul. The letters of First and Second Timothy are never written to become part of the New Testament. Additionally, instead of backtracking with Barnabas, Paul ends up going into new territories and spreading the Gospel even further. God always has new territories for us to explore and enter into if we would just be willing. Sometimes however He needs to take us out of our comfort zone to do so. He needs to take us away from the things we try to cling to. There are new possibilities and possibly, even new Timothys out there waiting for us.

    Lastly, we need to realize that no one has a corner on the truth. The only thing that is etched in stone is the Word of God. We cannot compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ but there is always room for difference outside of that. We do not know the specifics of the disagreement here. Paul may have felt betrayed or maybe that John Mark was not serious enough. Barnabas may have been playing favorites or maybe he was just more willing to give second chances. What we do know is they both felt that they were right. They both dug into their respective positions and refused to be moved from them. That does not make Paul or Barnabas right; it makes them human. They were both able to go on with the work God had called them to. They both were able to strengthen the churches and plant new ones. Every disagreement is not the end of the world – it just may be the end of a season.

    Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways and God was glorified through it. They each had their own path to take even though I am sure they thought they would stay together. Likewise, we too have a path that God wants us to take. It is His path that leads to His glory. As difficult as separating may be, we need to be mindful to the Holy Spirit and realize that sometimes the gift of goodbye is not as bad as we might feel. God can always bring paths back together if that is His will. If not, as long as we find ourselves on the path God intends, we will find His blessings, His favor, and His peace. While a disagreement might be the end of one chapter it can also be the gateway to the path of new beginnings.

    Rev. Anthony

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