When people gather together, conflict happens. Even a happy group of people with similar ideas will encounter conflict. If we don’t respond to it with Godly wisdom, the conflict can quickly explode into a bigger mess.
The Apostle Paul and his missionary partner Barnabas agreed to go back to the churches they both started and check on the Christians. This was a good plan and both we eager to go. Barnabas also wanted to bring along with them another partner, John Mark. Enter the conflict.
John Mark started with them on the first missionary journey but soon dropped out for unknown reasons. Whatever the reasons were, Paul did not want to John Mark to come along with him and Barnabas. Barnabas did. So great was the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, they parted ways. The good idea of visiting churches was torn apart by a little disagreement between two godly, Spirit-filled men.
Know that conflict will happen and know how to respond to it.
Jesus intended his Church to live by the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. He gave a simple gospel message and didn’t leave us with a long list of rules to modify our behavior. He left us the Holy Spirit to transform our minds and hearts.
Over the centuries of Church history, Christians have made all kinds of rules to modify other people’s behavior. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in our journey, we seem to prefer to make rules to follow to make Christian living less mysterious. Yet, a rule very often becomes an obstacle to a relationship with Jesus.
This is not a problem of modern American Christianity. This same problem sprang up within the first few years after Jesus rose from the dead; good intentions gone wrong. Continuing a study in Acts, Rod explains how the first disciples of Jesus handled these same issues and how we can do the same today.