And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. - Acts 15:39 NASB
This is a sad chapter in Church history, and not the last.
Barnabas had been Paul’s first ally and had spent probably close to a decade (years anyway) traveling with him. They had seen and done many miracles together—not the least of which was Paul’s own resurrection (or near resurrection—he was at least mostly dead in Lystra.) They had led hundreds, perhaps thousands of new believers into faith. They had planted churches throughout Asia Minor. They with Peter stood together before the council to declare that God was saving gentiles (a fact for which I am very thankful.)
And yet, there came a day when there was a “sharp disagreement” and they parted ways.
One thing to note here. Neither one of them went home and quit the ministry. They did not close up shop. They did not shut down. They did go their separate ways. But as they went they continued in ministry. The church continued to back them up with prayer and commissioning and their ministers continued to be fruitful.
This is the way the Passion Translation puts it:
After the believers prayed for them, asking for the Lord’s favor on their ministry, they left for Syria and southeast Turkey. Every place they went, they left the church stronger and more encouraged than before. - Acts 15:40-41 TPT
I’m not making and space for division. I’m not saying we should split over our differences. I don’t think it pleased the Father to have these two apostles split. And I don’t think it was the best for either of them. I don’t think it was God’s plan all along to have division in the body.
What I see is the wonderful grace and mercy of our heavenly Father to continue to work with us when we are broken. He does not lift His grace and anointing even when we are thick-headed and stubborn. His mercies truly are new every morning.
In the end Paul and Barnabas were reconciled and John Mark forgiven, and that is as it should be. But in the mean time, these men went on about the business of the Father.
Isn’t God good?
See you again soon,