I'm Back - Maybe
As I suspected, I will not be able to return to regular posting until the end of the semester (end of May). Please continue to keep me in your prayers and I look forward to more substancial posting at that time.
Wow. It has been quite some time since I have been able to post. I had a midterms during one week, midterms to begin the next week, Missions Conference, and then a week of 3 large assignments due. I then took a few days off just to relax a little.
Now, however, I am back until my schedule picks up again.
Having returned, let me turn to a passage that we looked at in Church recently.
An interesting passage from Acts 15:
36Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing."
Note the setting - Two men of God setting out to do Ministry.
37Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38but 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.
Disagreement ensues. Barnabas, the great encourager who years before was the first to reach out to Paul when no others would, now desires to reach out to Mark. Paul, the great missionary, knows that taking Mark may compromise the preaching of the Gospel.
Who is right? I would make the argument that both were right. I believe I can do this without becoming a post-modern and throwing out basic rules of logic. The way I can do so is by appealing to the Body of Christ. As we know, we are all not eyes nor are we all hands. Similarly, an eye does not perform the function of the hand nor does the hand perform the function of the eye. They both produce different, equally important, functions for the body to operate.
In the same way, two members of the body of Christ are living out the Christian call in two different ways. I do not believe that either response is superior here. To stretch the previous metaphor, we might call this hand-eye coordination (both the Hand and Eye are working together to accomplish one task). Both men have an important role to play in accomplishing the Mission (that is the Furthering of the Great Commission while restoring Mark to Christian service).
39They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Note here that their disagreement does not result in a ceasing of service to God. Quite to the contrary, the evangelistic movement has grown. Rather than one team consisting of two men, we now have two teams each consisting of two men going to two locations. This seems to clearly be God working in the midst of problems. This is our God, is it not? You meant it for evil, but I meant it for good. So said Joseph of old and so too does it apply here and to our life as well.
What is the end result?
Ultimately Paul utters these emotional words in hist last Epistle before his death:
"Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service" (2Tim 4:11).
I do not think that Paul is recanting or regretting the decision that he made years before. Quite to the contrary. I think that Paul's decision is very similar to the hope that we always have when looking at Church discipline. We do not cast a person out and Paul does not reject Mark as a form of punishment. Rather, we trust that God will use this as a means to restore them. This is exactly what has happened here. Mark has once again proven himself and Paul desires his company at the end of his life; Not only his company, but also one reason is given: "he is useful to me for service." This is the exact opposite of the statement Paul said so many years before. Why is it the opposite? Because we serve a God who takes the failures of men and turns them completely on their head and uses them for His greater purposes.
Let us not forget Barnabas in this process. Barnabas was willing to part company with his great Disciple in order to assist Mark. Sometimes following God's plan in ministry happpens at the expense of our desires. We can be sure that Barnabas would have liked to continue on with Paul preaching the Gospel. However, the greater call was to leave Paul and begin to disciple a new man. What is the end result of Barnabas' mentoring? Paul, the greatest Apostle of all time and Mark, the author of the earliest (probably) Gospel. Most of us will not have the opportunity to reach as many people with the Gospel as Paul did or write an inspired Gospel account. Most of us will not be Augustines, Luthers, Calvins, Edwardes, Whitefields, Bunyans, Owens, Spurgeons, Packers, Stotts, Pipers, MacArthurs, etc. However, all of us can and do have the opportunity to invest in the lives of others. If God can use one man to foster the Spiritual growth of Paul and Mark, then who knows what God may choose to do through us. May we be willing to serve.
In Christ alone,