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Oct 14, 2018

This is Us: Go

This is Us: Go

Passage: Acts 16:1-15

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: This is Us

Category: Faith, presence, minister

Keywords: community, disciples

An evangelist is simply a beggar who tells another beggar where to find bread. We are all beggars as we use our gifts to go out and witness to others about Jesus Christ.

Scripture

Acts 15:36-41
Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas
Sometime 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.”  Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them,  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.  They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,  but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Devotional

I did it.  Did you?  Did you pick a side?  Was it Paul, being protective of the new faith and not wanting the message to be compromised?  Was it Barnabas, the forgiving soul who might just be too naive?  Was it Mark, because you identify with someone who made a huge mistake?  Or was it Silas, who said nothing at all.

You won’t see this passage written out in neat calligraphy on a bookmark.  No one has a beach scene magnet with this scripture prominently displayed.  

This story is unsettling.  At least it reads that way.  It’s like watching a couple break up in a restaurant.  There is a sense of betrayal.  There is unforgiveness.  And a tightly knit friendship comes unraveled.  Aren’t these guys supposed to be living in the kingdom?  What happened to unity?  Unsettling.  And that is why I love this story.

I need to be reminded from time-to-time that my heroes of the faith are not special at all.  What makes them remarkable is God.  Religious fanatics, cowards, murderers, adulterers, drunks, traitors, pick a sin, any sin and God has used the sinner to carry out his will in the world.  It’s not the just fair-haired child that God uses.  It’s also the broken, the flawed and the discarded.

This leaves me no excuse.  When God opens the door of opportunity, there really is no valid excuse.  No matter my flaw, I am forgiven.  Whatever weakness I may claim, God can overcome.

So, is God’s will frustrated by this argument?  Does He pick a side? 

Nope.

His will is carried out by everyone involved.  Syria is strengthened by the ministry of Paul and Silas.  Barnabas and Mark bring the good news to Cyprus.

And what about this seemingly irreconcilable difference between John-Mark and Paul?  Paul mentions him in two of his later letters to the church.  In both 2nd Timothy and Colossians, Mark is called out as a helpful minister of the way.  At some point, God softens their hearts and they reconcile.

This gives me hope.  I am a follower of Jesus.  And though I wish that Christ’s love would have perfected me by now, I remain a deeply flawed individual.  But God has a way of putting me in situations and with people who constantly chip away at my rough edges.  That is the kingdom way.  This is Us.

Prayer

As a prayer, I close with a chorus of a Gospel hymn from my childhood: Jesus. use me, o Lord, don't refuse me, surely there's a work that I can do.  Even though it's humble, Lord help my will to crumble, though the cost be great, I'll work for You.

Written by Ben Roberts. Ben leads one of the Men's Ministry groups. He lives in Ashburn with his wife Jennifer and their son Ethan.