Topic: Managing Different Opinions
Text: Acts 15:36-41
Key verse: There was a sharp argument, and they separated: Barnabas took Mark and sailed off for Cyprus, – Acts 15:39
Aloneness has never been God’s idea. Adam was complete and was functioning in the garden but God was not satisfied and decided to create a helper to be with him. God delights in our partnership with him and with others.
One of the strategies of the devil to stop our success in fulfilling a mission is to cause conflict, strife, and division, it starts when individuals have different opinions about an issue. To build a winning mindset is to learn to manage different opinions in a constructive way that will not cut short or hinder the mission.
In our text today we see the dangers of not managing the impact of expressing our dissatisfaction with a person well. Remember Paul and Barnabas were called out by God for this mission at Antioch. The brethren prayed and sent them forth.
While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, to do the work to which I have called them.”- Acts 13:2
Along the line, as they prepared to leave they took along with them John Mark as their assistant, which was not a bad idea. They had barely gone far in the journey when John Mark deserted them.
Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos and came to Perga, a city in Pamphylia, where John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. – Acts 13:13
The scriptures did not give details about the reasons why John returned to Jerusalem, but we know that action did not go down well with Paul who resolved not to continue with him on the mission.
Barnabas had a different opinion about taking him along, but he was unable to convince Paul about it. This disagreement finally made Barnabas break faith with Paul and abandon the mission. That was the last time Barnabas was mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles!
Paul continued the missionary journey and picked Silas to go with him. Even though we later read about Paul requesting for John Mark to be sent to him many years after, we cannot fail to notice that Barnabas’ share in the mission was terminated because of a disagreement not well managed.
Barnabas was a great minister, he had a compassionate heart, and was nicknamed “Son of Encouragement”. He was a supporter of the work from the early days after Pentecost, Paul was introduced and welcomed into the fold after Barnabas went in search of him. He is the kind we would call a people’s person, always there for others. That aside, l reason he could have waited for the Holy Spirit to give them a solution to the conflict rather than storm off.
The mission is definitely not more important than the man, but considering that his partnership with Paul on that mission was God’s will, l believe it required specific divine direction and should not have been resolved merely by emotions and sentiments, since John Mark was his relative.
I do not justify Apostle Paul’s position as we do not have details of what transpired between them and John Mark, but l know that the more excellent way Paul taught about in 1 Corinthians 13 would have proved most helpful at this time. The challenge with Paul is what happens often with goal-driven people, the mission consumes them and sometimes they are unable to manage people well and even hurt many while trying to reach those goals.
Learning to lead graciously is a strategy Jesus modelled for us, it didn’t compromise the mission rather it produced people who were willing to give even their lives for the mission.
So many cases of Divorce among believers could have turned out differently if they could have had a winning mindset that deals with different opinions without comprising the union.
May the Lord grant us the wisdom and patience to learn to live with each other in harmony until we can see eye to eye on the will of God about issues that seek to divide us, in Jesus’ name, amen.