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One or the other

Acts 15:37-40
Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed...

I think it was earlier this week that Joyce Meyer was talkng about times when conflicts that cause seperations actually multiply ministry. In hindsight, we see how this conflict did just that. Still, the nature of conflict in relationships is painful. I want to put down my own thoughts on the dynamics of this relationship between Paul and Barnabas and see if there are some lessons for me.

I've always tended to group Barnabas primarly with Paul because of thier invlovement together. I've been looking at Barnabas for a message I'm doing and beginning to see how closly aligned he is with the other apostles. He first appears in Acts giving offerings (4:36-37). Next he appears before the apostles to validate Paul's ministry. He must have had some influence with them to convince them that this former persecutor of "the Way" was now a follower of Jesus. Barnabas is eventually sent out from Jerusalem to represent the apostles back to his home of Cyprus, then to meet up with Paul in Tarsus before heading down to Antioch. Upon returing to Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul pick up Mark for thier next journey. These are the facts. Now here are my conclusions.

First, Barnabas' primary relational connection was with the apostles (and my assumption, Peter foremost) more than Paul. They had invested in his life, recognized his gifting and developed him as a leader (remember Barnabas already knew how to serve having been a levite), and entrusted him with responsibility. His loyalty was with the apostles.

Second, I know if I was in Barnabas' position it would have been very easy to overlook the anointing that was on Paul's life, or at least minimize it. After all, wasn't Paul's acceptance by the apostles based on Barnabas' recommendation? Wasn't it Barnabas who was comissioned to supervise these outlying churches? Wasn't it his choice to invite Paul along for the journey? I know I'm imposing a level of arrogance to him that may not have existed, but I know how I would have been thinking. Which brings me to my conclusion about the conflict over Mark.

I don't know what Mark did to frustrate Paul so much. Nevertheless, it caused such contention to force this seperation. But who was Mark that Barnabas chose him over Paul? Let me suggest that Mark was to Peter as Timothy became to Paul - a son in the faith. And since I assume Barnabas' loyalty to the apostles, he probably had shared some life with Mark and felt responsibility or even desire to continue to share his own process with Mark rather than Paul based on his sense of relational assignment.

Lessons for me:
1. I don't want my opinion of myself to keep from recognizing the anointing on someone else's life, even to come under someone whom I once "led." (That's going to be a hard one.)
2. I need to learn that seperations don't have to be destructive, even if they may be painful.
3. Loyalty is the interest on the investment of relationship.

In the end, we all have to choose relationships not knowing what the future holds. We can also trust God that if we walk them out the best we can with integrity, God's purposes will still be accomplished in all of our lives.

God, let me choose the relationships you have assigned to me, even if causes challenging seasons

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