Summary: The situation was tense. A disagreement that threatened to divide the early church, a personal spat that threatened to divide friends. What should we do when it happens to us?
Passage: Acts 15:36-41
Intro: Have you ever noticed that not everyone agrees with you all the time?
1. how can so many people be so consistently wrong so often?
2. things had been going well for Paul and Barnabas.
3. church in Antioch healthy, Jerusalem council decided in favor of Gentiles.
4. in the glow of success, Paul suggested another trip to see how people were doing.
5. but a hitch developed, grew, and then exploded into a full-blown argument.
6. a small matter really, but the result was huge.
7. let’s break this down to the 4 personalities involved, because my guess is each of us will find ourselves here.
8. and each of us can learn something about how we might interact with others, and the godly way to do so in the midst of conflict.
9. let’s look at each person individually.
I. Mark: the Young Believer
1. this young man was on the fringes of the early church, because of his youthfulness.
2. too young to be an apostle, probably the young man identified in Mark 14:51 as fleeing naked from the site of Jesus’ arrest when a soldier grabbed the linen garment he was wrapped in.
3. mother was Mary, a woman who hosted prayer meetings in her home.
4. no idea of age, but his actions were those of a middle teenager.
5. 3 mentions in Acts of Mark, the 1st and 2nd the cause of the 3rd.
PP Acts 13:4
PP Acts 13:13
6. no one knows why he left, but many speculate, and I tend to agree, that he was troubled by the increasing Gentile nature of the mission.
7. no doubt a great deal of Acts deals with this ongoing controversy about the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church
8. whatever the reason, Mark demonstrated his immaturity by flaking out on them, and leaving them to do many extra things, household type things, probably.
Il) we can all remember when we were young, that we were given jobs we didn’t finish, responsibilities we didn’t fulfill. Some of the ideas we held to firmly were ridiculous.
9. so then, when another trip was planned and Barnabas wanted his young cousin to come along, the sparks began to fly.
10. here was Mark, caught between these two, probably very uncomfortable.
II. Barnabas: Oriented to People
1. we have already seen this man several times.
2. a great encourager, had been the only one to accept Saul, their former enemy, and bring him with all his potential to the apostles.
3. so here he is, true to form, suggesting that Mark be given another chance.
4. v37, tense means “Barnabas kept on wanting”… he persisted, even required
5. why did he do this? Mark had deserted him, too.
6. a true people-oriented person sees potential in spite of past failures.
7. he understands the nature of the failure, empathizes with the reasons, feels compassion.
8. for this kind of person, the failure to complete the task is not as critical as the damage to the person who failed.
9. and his goal, then, is to repair that damage and salvage the person.
Il) here is a description from the Kiersey Temperament Sorter that fits Barnabas.
“ESFJ, “Warm-hearted, talkative, popular, conscientious, born cooperators, active committee members. Need harmony and may be good at creating it. Always doing something nice for someone. Works bests with encouragement and praise. Little interest in abstract thinking or technical subjects. Main interest is in things that directly and visibly affect people’s lives.”
10. Barnabas looked at Mark through those eyes and saw potential, wanted to help him achieve it.
11. and here was the perfect opportunity to do that, even with the possibility that the task would be jeapordized.
12. are you like this? Do you know someone like this?
Il) this is the kind of parent who let’s his kid swing the hammer, paint the wall, try and fail. The person is more important than the task.
13. God needs these people. And also the Pauls.
III. Paul: Oriented to the Task
1. Paul would not hear of it.
2. v38, one value judgement…”did not think it wise”
3. Greek word for “worthy”. Mark was not dependable, and the task could fail.
4. Luke uses three powerful words to characterize Marks failure.
5. He had “deserted them”, where we get the word “apostasy”
6. “not accompanied”= he left them
7. “had not continued in the work”, with an emphasis on his failure in the task they had given him of helper.
8. Paul had his facts straight, and certainly he remembered the extra burden of housekeeping type chores that had fallen to he and Barnabas.
9. there is no doubt, based on past behavior, that Mark had proven himself to be undependable.