Acts 15:36-39 tells the story of how two brothers in the Christian faith—Paul and Barnabas—had a disagreement. In fact, verse 39 says, “Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another.”
There is a lot to learn from these verses as well as the verses that follow them.
The disagreement was over whether the two men should take a third man with them to visit churches to whom they once ministered.
Paul was not wrong in refusing to allow the third man, John Mark, to come along as John Mark had deserted them on a previous trip.
At the same time, Barnabas was not wrong to want to give John Mark another chance.
Both men saw things from a different perspective and, in a sense, they were both right. Even so, the contention between them was so sharp that they separated.
However, God, being the perfect God that He is, used the separation as an opportunity to receive glory unto Himself. Each man went in a different direction, and in each direction they went, God’s truth was preached.
Sometimes, we do not see things eye to eye with others. When those times come, we often chose to separate and go in a different direction. Thankfully, God sees to it that His mission is not thwarted, and His truth marches on, albeit in different directions.
New denominations form, churches split, and close relationships end. But, His truth marches on!
God uses it all for His glory and the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose.
It is not fun when things go south with a friend, church, or denomination. But it is good to know that God never loses control and uses even our moments of contention with each other to build His Kingdom.
Have you ever reached a point of such sharp contention with a loved one that you each decided to separate? I have.
It’s no fun, but God can and will make it good in His time. We must simply trust and obey Him, stand up for what we know to be right, do the right thing, and leave it in His hands to do as He will for His glory and our good.
Jerry Fulton's goal in life is to share the love of Jesus, so others might become followers of Christ.