Disagreement between Men of God

Acts 15:36-40
36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.
37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

Paul is always projected as a great example of being a good Christian. He is always projected as a person full of compassion, love, mercy, patience, knowledge among other things, but like in today's message we see Paul has a very serious argument with Barnabas and it get so serious that they decide to go different ways.

We need to remember Barnabas was the man who helped build Paul in his initial days he was a mentor for Paul. Barnabas was the one who stuck with him when the other Apostles were afraid of Paul. He accompanied Paul to Jerusalem and broke the ice between the other Apostles and Paul. So should not have Paul been grateful to Barnabas? Barnabas was an Apostle before Paul so being first shouldn't have Paul listened to him?

A tiff with Barnabas is not the only incident recorded in the NT. Paul also had tiffs with Peter on at least 2 occasions which caused Paul to openly in public rebuke Peter and also the tiff of Paul with the Church of Corinthian. The last one worked on Paul so much so that he was nearly on the verge of death. A man who could bring dead people to life by just holding them was himself helpless.

In Acts 19 Paul spent 3 months arguing with the Jews every Sabbath in the Synagogues.

If Paul was alive today some people could have accused him of being quarreler, especially with Pastors it is a taboo to go against one's mentor, but that is not what we see Paul as. When we look at all what Paul did, he worked for unification and goodness of the people and the Kingdom of God. But this aspect which is highlighted of Paul cannot be ignored and we need to understand why Paul did these things.

In today's message we see the cause of discontent between Paul and Barnabas was John who was called Mark. This Mark is the one who was assigned by the Apostles to record the teachings of Jesus (Gospel of Mark).

When we compare the Gospel of Mark to Matthew and Luke we see is very short (Mark wrote up to 16:8 and verses 9-20 were added by someone else). Even the few points / incidents recorded by Mark are very brief and do not give a proper dimension of the event. It is only when we compared the same event in the other Gospels we get a clear understanding.

Paul had no problem with the quality of work of Mark but there was one point Paul could not digest of Mark. According to Paul the Gospel of Mark was incomplete for Mark had not recorded the witnessing of the resurrection of Jesus. Mark stopped with the body of Jesus being put in the tomb and on the third day the body being missing even though it was well guarded.

We need to understand the one thing that Christianity is based on is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If one takes away the resurrection, there is no Christianity. That is the reason Mohammad tried his best to deceive people to believe Jesus did not die just to disapprove Jesus' resurrection. In the one/two ayah or scripture in the Quran against Jesus' resurrection, his lie stands exposed. In it he records the Jews as saying, they neither killed the Apostle of Allah (Allah referring to God and the Apostle of God referring to Jesus Christ) nor did they crucify him.

First thing one should realize the Jews hated Jesus and they consider Him as a false Prophet. They believe He is now in hell suffering for His heresy. So there is no way any true Jew will call Jesus an Apostle of God or Messenger of God. It shows how Mohammad made-up his stories to deceive people into accepting him and the true representative of God. He did that even to the other pagans by accepting / acknowledging their 3 goddesses till they accepted him in their midst (at that time he did not have a strong army to fight them and take them by force). Later he claims Satan temped him to say the words and they are called the Satanic verses and have been edited out of the new Qurans.

We Christians need to realize the importance of Jesus' resurrection like Paul did and thus he did not compromise with Barnabas who was supporting Mark. Paul wanted Mark to complete the Gospel and no leave it half way. Even with Peter the incidents where Paul rebuked Peter were on serious points where Peter was misleading people.

Both Barnabas and Peter were giving importance to relationship and were compromising with Holy things of God for the things of man. They did not fear God but feared disappointing man. Paul loved man but when men having knowledge of God yet went against God then Paul did not spare them. At one place Paul says he handed over unto Satan some believers who were blaspheming God. He meant he disconnected his relationship with them and thus took out the hedge of protection that was on him and extended unto them by considering them brethren. Being out of God's protection they would get sense through the things they would experience and thus repent.

At times when people who go against the Holy things of God and lead people away from God, we need to put our foot down and take up the matter with them. We need not confront everyone in the open but should try our best to handle the matter as discreetly as possible. But if need be we should not fear to bring it out in the open.

We need to also note even though Paul had a tiff with Barnabas or Peter, Paul did not let that affect his relationship with them. Paul desired to send the message down the line but he also made up in his relationship with them. We see Peter crediting Paul for greater understanding of scriptures than himself. We also see Barnabas and Mark being back into Paul's team.

[ Prayer Starter ]
Lord, we pray that your people know the purpose of being Christian. That they know it is not about them but about You, that without You there is no us. Lord, we pray people do not compromise You and the Truth for relationships. That they love one another but above all love You. That even if they have disagreement, the disagreement be focused on the issue and not on the persons. That oneness remains both in You and among your people...

This prayer we make in Jesus' Name, Amen.

[ Reference ]
Acts 9:26-27
26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Galatians - 2:11-16
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Acts 19:8 - And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

2 Timothy 4:11 - Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

1 Timothy 1:20 - Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

The Word of God was given free to us, therefore we should also share it freely with others.
(All rights are with God)