“And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” Acts 15:36-41
Here were two of the gifted greats: Paul the remarkable orator, whose reason and intellectual prowess were stirring powerful transformation among the young churches; and Barnabas, selfless leader, bold companion, forthright teacher, and encourager bent on discipleship building. Both were filled with God’s Spirit, each was instrumental in preaching, and strengthening the brothers, and they had different ideas and plans about how best to do their God-inspired ministry. How to proceed when they disagreed? (4:36-37; 9:26-31; 13:2; 14:19-28)
There are many times in the Body, because we are all distinct, that we feel and think differently while fueled with the same godly motive. It’s important we recognize that the Lord has wired us individually and has broad purposes for His people to fulfill. In most instances, instead of questioning others’ intentions, or criticizing their chosen course of action, we would do well to graciously agree to disagree and support each other’s chosen path. Sometimes disagreements lead to scattered, multiplied fruit. The Lord builds His people and places in different ways, and chooses to inject His children in specific relationships and ministries to do His bidding- none necessarily better nor more important than another- only different. He grants distinct ways of thinking, and varied hows and whats and whos in their performance. (1 Corinthians 12:4-27)
The Lord directs our wants and thoughts when we consecrate ourselves to Him. Our responsibility is to be filled with His Spirit and develop discernment as we take on the mind of Christ against all the mixed messages of our world. When colleagues in the body of Christ have opposing opinions, we are to extend grace. What can I learn? Is there an area I should surrender? Might the Lord be leading us to multiply effectiveness by going in different directions? Rather than nitpick and diminish one another, together we can help build up the body of Christ by doing faithfully what God has called us to do and encouraging others in their work. (Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Ephesians 4:11-16; 5:18)
Would we commend God’s people and work to Him to figure out and disseminate? Would we open ourselves to what His call is for me, and generously support what He’s doing with others? Would we take on an eternal view for His wider plan than just mine, and wholeheartedly delve into my calling? (Colossians 3:23)
Lord, give me Your vision and clarify my call, then courage and joy on the execution. May I be quick to commend and support the ministry of others, and always serve for Your glory and good ends.