Acts 15:36-41 36 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.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 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. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
It’s nice to agree on things. Everyone feels good about decisions and we can all start moving in the same direction. Sometimes people don’t agree. And because we are good Christian people, we do our best to come to some sort of resolution. There’s a little give and take and everyone will be happy. After all, we want unity. Right? But what happens when you just can’t agree? Certainly one of you must be right and the other one wrong. They just need to see it your way and get on with it. Or maybe neither one of you is wrong. You just don’t agree. How do you reconcile that? How do you move on and agree to disagree?
We see in Acts 15 that Paul and Barnabas encountered this very issue. Barnabas wanted to bring his cousin Mark along but Paul didn’t feel good about that. Paul didn’t want any extra baggage and saw Mark as a potential problem. Barnabas, however, saw it differently. Now remember that Barnabas was the very guy who took a chance on Paul. He had the gift of seeing potential in someone when no one else did. He must have seen something in Mark, too. Because later on in Paul’s letters he wrote kind things about Mark. It appears that he eventually came around and saw that Mark wasn’t so bad after all. But that is not how he felt on this particular day. Today, he refused to add Mark to the team. It wasn’t going to happen.
So what do you do when you have a stand still? Barnabas wouldn’t budge on adding Mark to the team and Paul wouldn’t budge on not adding him. This wasn’t a doctrinal issue or even a spiritual one. It was a practical one. So they agreed to disagree. And as they disagreed, Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways. As a result, two young men (Silas and Mark) had an opportunity to step up to the plate and be mentored. Even though they disagreed, God used the situation to advance His kingdom.
I guess the takeaway for me today is that sometimes we just aren’t all going to agree. I strive to have peace in my life both with God and with my relationships. I don’t want someone mad at me and I don’t want to be mad at them. I want us to all get along. I want every situation to be a win-win. But what I am finding in today’s scripture is that my idealized outcome won’t always happen. Sometimes we will have to part ways. Sometimes I won’t agree. And I’ll have to be okay with that. God can work with it if my heart is in the right place.
*Do you have places in your life where disagreement is discouraging you? Give your disagreement to God and ask Him what to do with it.