37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus.
Acts 15:37 -39

Conflicts in the church are more common than you think, and all of us will face one at some point or another, and knowing how to respond healthily and harmoniously will prevent a situation from escalating into a crisis.

Most times, believers tend to shun from conflicts instead of sorting them out. This is one reason why some would rather leave a church without resolving their differences in a healthy and biblical way. This sort of attitude and behaviour doesn’t help anybody but serves only to further erode authentic and healthy relationship, and may even discourage us from making new friends.

I truly appreciate Luke’s literary transparency in mentioning the irreconcilable conflict between two spiritual giants, Barnabas and Paul over John Mark and how their personal failure to stay together broke their friendship and partnership. Though years later, the fractured friendship between them was mended, their parting has affected the church in a big way. That’s why the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to record this episode for our benefit.

No conflict is ever a one-way street. There are always two sides to every story, and that’s why it is rarely ever clear-cut, black and white, right and wrong.

Conflict happens because we don’t always share the same outlook on every issue. As much as we have different personalities, we have different perspectives and ways of doing things. So, what works for us might not work for others; as such, it is always good to be more open and receptive in our thinking and approach. Initially, Paul wouldn’t have anything to do with John Mark, but later, he acknowledged John Mark’s contribution to his ministry (Colossians 4:10).

Paul was willing to be wrong about John Mark because he dealt with his own negative attitude. And as a result, things got better between them. Remember, your view of people is a self-fulfilling prophecy of your relationship with them. If you are not looking for the positives in people and only focusing on the negatives, guess how the relationship is going to end. One hard lesson I have learned in recent days is to accept that there will be times when people will disappoint you or behave in a way that you cannot possibly imagine, but when that happens, just recognise they are still God’s work in progress and so are you.

© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
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