Acts 15:36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. 39 The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Here we see Paul and Barnabas parting company after having been used by the Lord in mighty ways. They were a powerfully effective team for many years. It was Barnabas who vouched for Paul when Paul (then known as the pharisee and persecutor of Christians named Saul) was a new believer whom no one trusted. Barnabas sought out Paul when he needed help with his church in Antioch. Barnabas stood next to Paul during the council of Jerusalem, concurring Paul’s testimony of God’s spirit being poured out among the Gentiles. They had also been together in hard time, times of persecution, imprisonment, even being stoned – the kind of stoned where people throw rocks at you in an attempt to kill you. I imagine they were closer than blood brothers.
So it’s remarkable to read that they went their separate ways.
It happens. Relationships form and then fracture. Couples divorce, bands break up (Van Halen/David Lee Roth reunion tour coming 2019!), business partners go their separate ways, and so on. Somehow I expected that renown leaders of the early church, empowered by the Spirit, could be different. Nope. People are people.
This morning I’m reflecting on my current relationships, particular the relationships I share related to my work as a pastor. How are those relationships? Are any of them in trouble? Am I doing my part to foster their continuity or am I neglecting some?
Lord, relationships are among the most important things we have in life, first our relationship with you then our relationships with other people. Give me grace to steward relationships well – to ask forgiveness when I am in the wrong and extend grace when others wrong me. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.