Think about the divisions within the church. Actually, let’s be interactive. I remember sitting with my uncle at a family picnic when he said,“He had been hurt more by Christians that by non-Christians.” Now, why would he say that? Could it be true? Do Christians hurt each other? Why does the devil attack from within?
Raise your hand if…
If you have ever been hurt by something someone who claimed to be a Christian said raise your hand.
Okay, I do not want to have you raise your hand for anymore of these because we hopefully have visitors:
Just think: Do not raise your hand:
Have you ever hurt someone with your words being a Christian yourself?
Have you ever left church in tears because of gossip or rumors?
Have you ever been angered at church because of something wrongfully said about you?
Have you wrongfully said something about someone else at church?
Have you spread the gossip or the rumor?
Have you been unloving?
Have others been unloving to you? I know this is broad.
The church is a place for sinners. The church is a place for people who do wrong things and I am one of them. But the church is also a place where once we commit to Christ we commit to grow and change and not get worse but get better.
A few weeks ago, I was with my three year old, Mercedes, she wanted to build a sand castle with gravel on the driveway. She did not know that little bit of gravel on the driveway would not build a sand castle. She did not know and does not know how much better the sand on the beach will be. Likewise, we come to know Jesus and we are sinners, we are sinners our whole life, but as we grow in Christ we grow out of certain sins. This means that we realize that life is different. Before we were playing trying to build sandcastles with gravel on a driveway, but Jesus wants us to grow into Christ followers who are not wrestling daily with the same old stuff.
Jesus wants us to have a renewed perspective. Let me make that example make some sense… Okay, so, is gravel very malleable?
I have a bucket of gravel right here, let me pour some out, do you think it is malleable? No, Mercedes cannot build a sandcastle with this, and God can do anything but sometime we are not even like gravel we are like rocks and God needs to make us like sand, so that He can work within us.
Now, I have sand, let me pour some out into another bucket, is this malleable? Is it? Can you work with it? Can God work with it? Can a child like Mercedes work with it?
We need our relationships to be like sand, not like gravel or rock.
Then we will still offend people and still sin, but hopefully not the same old stuff and not as much. Hopefully then we make things right. So, let’s talk about that.
I hope we can talk about that now. Let’s look at a passage where the Apostle Paul had a difference with Barnabas. They part ways, but I want to make the case that though they part ways, they do so agreeably. I want to talk about Biblical restoration. I want to challenge you to Biblical restoration.
Read Acts 15:36-41 with me:
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Notice that Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement.
This disagreement is in verse 37. Barnabas was an encourager, he wants to give John Mark a second chance. Now, what happened with John Mark? In Acts 13:13 Paul and Barnabas were on their first missionary journey and Barnabas went home to Jerusalem. There may have been several reasons for this: NIV text note of Acts 13:13: “homesicknesss to get back to Jerusalem, an illness of Paul necessitating a change in plans and a trip to Galatia, and a change in leadership from Barnabas to Paul have all been suggested as reasons for John Mark’s return.” (to Jerusalem). Either way, now Barnabas is saying, “Let’s give him a second chance.” Paul says, “No way.”
Verse 39 says that they had a “Sharp” disagreement.”
Have you ever had a “Sharp” disagreement. What do you do? How do you handle it?
I was once listening to a counseling program and a couple had little snicker bars all over the house and someone asked, “Why are there snicker bars all over the house?” The couple said that was to give them a timeout. You see when they are in the heat of an argument and they are in a sharp disagreement and they need a timeout, but you know we don’t want to take a timeout, do we? So, what they do is grab a little snickers bar, the little ones. Then they think and that forces a time out.
I have listened to and read lots of counseling and books and documents and it is recommended that people need timeouts, but they are hard to take.
I think Paul, the Apostle needed a timeout.
Paul is a “Driven” personality. “Fight or flight” Paul fights.
They had a sharp disagreement. Paul and Barnabas were partners and sometimes we like to take this passage and say even the best of Christians have massive arguments. I read one source that said that sometimes we take this passage too far. We take it and make it look like they had a “knock down, drag out, fight.” We don’t know that. We know they disagreed, we know they disagreed strongly, sharply, we know they needed a “timeout” or a snickers bar and there were none around. But you know what else we know, it appears there were no hurt feelings. Look at these verses: 2 Tim. 4:11: Only Luke is with me. Get [John] Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. Also: Col. 4:10: My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Philemon 24: And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. 1 Cor. 9:6: Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?
So, it does appear that Paul and John Mark were okay, later on and even with each other later on. It appears that Paul and Barnabas were okay later on.
What house happens in this passage? Sometimes we are stuck making sandcastles in a driveway with a little bit of gravel. Step back.
In verses 39-41 two missionary journeys happened instead of one. Barnabas took John Mark and Paul took Silas. God spread the Great Commission more this way. Isn’t that awesome!
Secondly, Paul chose Silas and Silas was a Roman citizen and we will hear more about that in chapter 16:37.
Point of application: who do you have to reconcile with?
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
B. This passage is telling us that restoration is more important than an offering.
C. Relationships are important.
D. Let’s look at one other passage of Scripture: Matthew 18:15-17:
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
E. Conflict resolution begins with a small circle.
F. You go and talk to the person who has offended you. Then, if there is no resolution you bring another person in. Then two people in and then the church leadership.
G. It is not Biblical, and it is just harmful, just let things go.
Remember: What did Jesus say? You leave your offering and go and bring restoration and then come back to worship. Restoration is more important than giving! Those commands come from God’s Word.
So, have you been offended? Have you offended someone else? Maybe it is time to make things right. Maybe it is time to apologize. Ask for forgiveness. Yes, we are all sinners. We are all sinners, we are all making sand castles on a driveway not on a beach, but as we grow in Christ God wants us to be more like Him and less like the world and that means that God wants us to be more loving. God wants us to be reconciled. God wants us to step back and see the beach some day. God needs us to be sand, not rock. God needs us to be malleable. God wants us to realize that you cannot make a sand castle on a driveway, but you can on a beach. Likewise, we really cannot have a holistic body until we are reconciled and we deal with those things that entangle us. Please, I urge you, in love, approach each other this week. Just one on one. Pray first. We see that the Apostle Paul, Barnabas and John Mark’s disagreement did not separate them.
There is a pastor named, Andy Stanley, who is son to Charles Stanley. Charles Stanley is on radio and Television and both have written books. Andy Stanley has some 33,000 people attend the campuses of his church. 33,000 people. Some 20 years ago a rift began between father and son. A major rift began. Andy was then pastoring under Charles Stanley and had different views of how to do worship. But things were growing, things were going well. To make matters worse, there were some family issues as well. I can get the article. What I want to tell is that Charles Stanley was persistent that he and Andy meet for lunch every week in order to resolve their conflicts. During this process, Andy planted a church, so they did part ways since in the beginning Andy was actually on staff at Charles’ church. But also during this time, God expanded the Kingdom. The ministry of Charles Stanley is still thriving. The ministry of Andy Stanley is thriving Andy writes on leadership and has podcast and much more. Andy Stanley’s church is something like the 3rd largest in the country. But another lesson is that Charles Stanley as the Father was persistent and they reconciled their relationship. In the end they invited Charles to serve communion at Andy’s church and Andy for the eightieth birthday celebration of Charles Stanley.
Who do you need to talk with this week? First talk with Jesus. Make sure that you are malleable like sand, not like rock.
Do you know Jesus?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)