In Acts 15 we get a lovely glimpse into a group of believers, trying to figure out what to do with the message they have been entrusted to deliver to the world. Leading up to this moment, we had people traveling in different directions, different routes sharing the gospel. They were instructing new believers on what they need to do, in order to be saved. There were discrepancies that would come up as the gentiles would ask them questions, each person answering from his own perspective and opinion. They brought their issues to the Pharisees who would weigh in on the matters. Finally a council of elders & apostles met to discuss this situation.
After some time and discussion and prayer, Peter would address the group and give a response of grace. Peter ultimately points out that it would be foolish to put the same rules upon the gentiles that the Jews were unable to uphold. Barnabas and Paul shared about the miracles they experienced in their times with the gentiles. James affirmed that God had declared that the gentiles would be His, as well. Then under James leading, and in accordance to the Holy Spirit, the drafted a letter that would clear up the matter. It would be sent out to all the cities. The matter was settled.
Now, some time later, Paul tells Barnabas that he thinks it would be a good idea to go back through the cities and follow up on the letter. And then it happened, they had a disagreement. They both agreed that they should go, but they disagreed on whom should go with them. It was such a heated disagreement, that they actually parted ways.
Both men had the same goal in mind, however they were in disagreement about the manner in which to go about it.
If you have served in ministry, you may have experienced this.
If you work in a company, you may have experienced this.
Even in relationships, you may have experienced this.
The interesting thing here is that the scriptures don’t point out that either man was wrong. Both of these men were fundamental leaders in the early church. However, they were in such disagreement that they could no longer be in each others presence. Yet, they would continue from that departure, each doing the work that the Holy Spirit would lead them to do. Both important parts of the body, same goals, but a different way to accomplish that goal.
Their separating ways was a good thing, allowing the work of the Kingdom to be broadened.
There will be times in our life, in relationships or in service, where we are in disagreement. Sometimes, that disagreement is something that needs to be reconciled and repaired. However, there are occasions where that disagreement is a divine intervention, that calls both parties to separate ways. Simply because their tasks are no longer to be completed together. God may be ready to move us into new directions. We can’t move toward new directions if we are digging our heels into our current location.
Acts 15: 39b -40
Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.
As they chose their traveling companions and left to strengthen the churches, they were praised and given well wishes by the believers.
The important thing here is not that that they departed ways, but how they departed ways. We are not given any indication that they left with malice toward each other, or that their relationship was broken. In fact, they were each praised by those who were seeing them off. Throughout the scriptures we are told that we are to reconcile to each other and to God. Reconciliation doesn’t necessarily mean going the same way. It means we can go different directions with love, respect, blessing and hope for each other.
Lord, thank you for your word that continually teaches us through example on how we should treat each other in our relationships and our departures. Each and every example in your word points us to Christ and our need for a savior. Thank you for your word that never fails. Amen.
Suggested Reading: Acts 15