“Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.’ Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.” (Acts 15:36-40 NIV84)
There wasn’t a better ministry team in the early church than Paul and Barnabas. They were the first to intentionally go deep into the Gentile world and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord richly blessed their ministry not only among the Gentiles but also in Antioch which was the home base. In our verses for today we see that the early disciples were not perfect. Like you and me they had egos and opinions that got in the way. Paul and Barnabas got into such a fierce argument about whether John-Mark should come with them on their next missionary journey that they ended up splitting up.
The question I raise is, where was the homothumadon (one mindedness) we saw in the early chapters of the book of Acts? Where was the verse that says, “because of this conflict, the church prayed in one mind and the Lord revealed…”? Where was the casting of lots, so that the Lord might be the one to make the final decision? None of those verses was recorded here because the people of the church did not respond the way they ought to have. Personalities, egos, and opinions ruled the day, and Paul and Barnabas left each other in anger and frustration.
I guess it’s good to see that these guys are as human as we are, but it also disheartening to see how quickly we claim authority that ought to be Christ’s alone. What’s the good news here? God forgives sinners. These men were forgiven and their future ministries were richly blessed. But let us learn that we ought to fight for peace and unity over our authority and opinion.