“A Sharp Disagreement”
May 13, 2016
Message Summary: “In as much as it is up to you, live peacefully with all men.”
Note: Our country and world is entering into a time of practically unimaginable delusion with a hastening of sexual anarchy in regard to the most fundamental aspect of our design as expressed in Genesis 1:27, “Male and female He created them.” We will be preparing a message about this topic and a warning to guard yourself and your family against deception and delusion.
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Please note: The illustrative background to this message is a bit longer than most. The exposition starts at the second illustration.
“And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus” (Acts 15:39).
Last week I attended a luncheon meeting for chaplains here in Pennsylvania. A man greeted me by name whom I didn’t recognize at first. It was a fellow preacher by the name of Walt who now serves as a chaplain in a federal prison. I last spoke to him nearly 30 years ago when the church we were pastoring at that time was constructing a new building.
Walt and John, another pastor friend, supplemented their income by installing carpet in the church for us. One of them, I can’t recall whom, had a carpet laying background. The general contractor of our building project attended the church that Walt pastored about 125 miles away and hired the two men to lay the carpet.
However as the project had progressed we discovered the contractor was not paying his bills to vendors and contractors in our area and it turned into a very troublesome matter. I recall one excavator called and threatened to bring his dozer over to make a mess of our new construction if he didn’t get paid! It seems that the general contractor was in trouble financially and was using the money we had paid him to pay vendors and subcontractors related to jobs he had done for others. His business was going down fast and we were very concerned for our new church’s reputation. We had planted the church several years earlier and, after renting all those years, we were finally able to construct a building for worship. At the advice of our attorney we ceased paying the general contractor and instead paid off all the local bills and managed to complete the project on our own. It was a hard time with many sleepless nights but it came together in the end, thanks to the good leadership God had given our young church.
However, as far as I know in this job, Walt and John weren’t paid for their work. I suppose what should have gone to them was used to pay off someone earlier. That made for an uncomfortable situation since they lived in the same district and I periodically saw them at conferences. In full disclosure I most likely avoided them due to the uncomfortableness of the matter. I made no attempt to contact them!
When I saw Walt last Wednesday I alluded to our last meeting expressing sorrow for the way it went down. He was very understanding and apparently was well aware of the contractor’s poor business practices. We visited for a few minutes and it felt good for things, after all these years, to be alright between us. He has been faithful in ministry.
Today we want to consider something we’ve all have dealt with in various ways; times of division with other Christians, including those with extenuating circumstances. The verse we use is by no means a complete parallel to the uncomfortable matter I experienced with Walt. We didn’t have what our daily verse describes as a “sharp disagreement”. Now in my early sixties, we are pleased that we’ve not had a lot of conflict with other Christians but there are still a few people out there whom it would be uncomfortable to see and whom we might even seek to avoid! Anybody identify with us? We’re not outright enemies but not exactly chummy either.
Perhaps there’s a Biblical lesson in considering the last known meeting between Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas had a powerful impact on Paul’s life and they had effectively ministered together in mission work. As they were preparing to set out on another missionary journey they had an issue with John Mark who had earlier deserted them. Barnabas wanted to take him along; Paul didn’t. “And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.”
We still recall a teaching from Bible College that one of the marks of the Bible’s authenticity is how it candidly reveals the weaknesses and faults of its heroes. Here we read that two of the Bible greats had a sharp disagreement and parted company. We wonder after this if it was hard for them to see each other at church councils and meetings? Did they try to avoid each other? Were they careful not to malign the other to their brothers and sisters?
No Scripture informs of Paul and Barnabas ever meeting again but after this Paul does refer to Barnabas in 1 Corinthians 9:6 and this verse may suggest they were again working together. In regard to John Mark, Paul later states he was a co-worker and useful to him in his ministry (See 2 Timothy 4:11). I wonder if Barnabas was tempted to say to Paul, “I told you so!” Or did he take the higher road, smile to himself, and quietly gave thanks to God for the redemptive turn-around?
Seeing Walt last week gave me an opportunity to finally clear the air. It reminds me of the importance of healthy relationships. A few situations remain where the parting was not pleasant due to a disagreement, misunderstanding, or one’s turning his back on the things of the Lord. In one case, a reconnection though Facebook, strangely enough, brought about a semblance of normalcy for which we are very thankful.
We conclude the above message with the words of Paul in Romans 12:18: “In as much as it is up to you, live peacefully with all men.”
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, I desire to be at peace with my own family members, for home is where my heart finds lodging and I like peaceful lodging. I also long to have peace with my brothers and sisters in the faith as well as those I interface with outside Christian circles. I lay my heart bare before You asking You to bring to mind anyone whom I might have offended. Spur me on to mend that difference which starts by humbling myself, seeking out that individual in love, and asking their forgiveness. I can even say “I’m sorry” when I was not in the wrong since those two words of reconciliation can open closed doors for further conversation and also convey my genuine intent to restore our relationship to its former luster. Help me to get beyond just thinking about it and into doing something about it. And for those who are unreceptive give me a peace in my heart that I’ve obeyed You in this command, in as much as it is possible, on my part. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Yesterday we stopped by a farm stand in an old order Mennonite area to buy some flowers. Across the road I saw what I initially though was some type of garden figurine. It turned out to be a little Mennonite girl in a bonnet. Not wanting to be intrusive I took a photo through the rear view mirror and in the process caught Brooksyne taking a photo of the woman’s garden for which she seemed very pleased!
As you can see the goat nestled with Brooksyne as well. Unfortunately the mother seems to have rejected this little one but the children are giving it extra attention hoping that it will pick up in strength, weight, and movement. If we had the space I don’t believe I could have gotten Brooksyne home without adding to our pet family.
The children were very anxious for me to photograph their brand new invention. The ground still needed some fresh tilling before Mom planted the corn so the children “invented” their own kind of hitch to the Shetland pony and guided the pony up and down the rows until the soil clumps broke apart. Their mother was very proud of their “invention”.
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