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“Dealing with Damaged Relationships”

Categories: In the Bulletin

Over the last few months, our Wednesday classes have been covering the book of Acts. About six weeks ago we were in chapter 15.36-41, and covered the section where Paul and Barnabas go their separate ways after a sharp disagreement over John Mark. Relationships, among brothers, are not always smooth. Let’s examine the text, observing the principle characters and a couple of key points:

Mark - disappointed. Mark had withdrawn from them once before. Why is not stated, but everyone has disappointed and been disappointed. Everyone has not “been there,” when needed and expected.

Barnabas - good intentions. Despite Mark’s failing, his cousin wanted to bring him along. Is this Barnabas giving Mark a second chance? Knowing Barnabas, his intentions were good regardless if what he proposed was wrong or right.

Paul - insisted. The wording in Acts 15.38 means that Paul did not think it was wise to take John Mark along. Is this Paul holding Mark to his own high standard? Is Paul being unforgiving, forgetting that Jesus gave him a second chance?

Separation - contention came because these two friends could not agree. What is good is that both men continued to do good even if it meant doing it without the other. Nevertheless, division is always regrettable.

Healing - Paul and Mark healed their riff, 1 Timothy 4.11, where Paul said that Mark was useful to him in ministry. Mark wound up being the person who wrote the second gospel account.

What lessons do we learn? My preaching friend, Perry Hall, observes:

  1. As outsiders, we don’t always have all the facts, so we need to be leery of taking sides.
  2. Even if someone close to us shirks their responsibility, it does not mean we should.
  3. Past failures do not predetermine future success.
  4. Forgiveness is the key to healing all separations.
  5. Our God is one who gives second chances, and so should we.

— Matthew Allen