In the spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles came to Boston to play a routine baseball game. But what happened that day was anything but routine. The Orioles’ John McGraw got into a fight with the Boston third baseman. Within minutes all the players from both teams had joined in the brawl. The warfare quickly spread to the grandstands. Among the fans the conflict went from bad to worse. Someone set fire to the stands and the entire ballpark burned to the ground. Not only that, but the fire spread to 107 other Boston buildings as well. (Source: Daily Bread, August 13, 1992)
We may not experience conflicts to this degree every day or ever in our own life; however, this is where unrestrained conflict will end! The restraint comes when you consider Jesus. It is vital for the believer to keep Jesus in view when in the middle of conflict...however, it is natural (easy) to think only of self!
Paul & Barnabas had seen life threatening persecution. Angry mobs had run them out of Iconium, Lystra, & Antioch. They had the aches and pains of traveling over 1200 miles on land and sea. They knew what it was like to be hated by large groups of people. They knew what it felt like to be told there was a group of people plotting to kill you. They also knew the joy of multitudes of people coming to know Christ! They saw firsthand the power of the gospel. They experienced time and time again large groups of people coming to Christ for salvation, accepting His free gift, and witnessing the joy and peace of Jesus flood their souls. THIS. This binds the hearts of co-laborers together like little else! There is a great ministry friendship here. However, in Acts 15:37 we hear of something …of someone, of whom they did not agree. Neither would budge. Both convinced they are right before the Lord.
There were 18 nations surveyed on the subject of immigration. The 18 nations surveyed contain more than half (51%) of the world’s migrant population, or some 127 million people, according to United Nations and U.S. Census Bureau estimates. This report was published on March 24, 2019 by pew research.(Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2019/03/14/around-the-world-more-say-immigrants-are-a-strength-than-a-burden/)
The survey found that the US holds 18% of the world’s migrant population. That is the most migrants in any one nation of the world. The second nation with a large amount of migrants Germany and Russia, each holding 5% of the world’s migrant population. This has caused tremendous debate in our country. According to this study, 34% say the migrants are a burden on the US and 59% say they make the country stronger. So, who is right? Depends on who you talk to. We are in a republic with other people who hold different political views than ourselves…we go to jobs with other people who believe their way is better…we are in neighborhoods with other people who have different lifestyles than us…we are in families with relatives who believe their way is the only way…and yes, we are in churches with people who have different standards than us.
HOW DO WE MOVE FORWARD WITH SUCH DISAGREEMENT? Doesn’t someone need to be declared right and wrong? Not always. It depends on what your goals are.
For the believer, Is the chief goal to determine immigration policy or to make disciples of Jesus Christ, love God, & love others?
o Consider this… a mission field that others risk their lives to travel across the world as missionaries to share the gospel with – these same people groups are coming to our own shores. Thus, we have the gospel opportunity right here in the USA…minus the threats of sharing the gospel declared as illegal!
Is the chief goal to get your way at work, with extended family, or with the neighborhood debate –or is it to make disciples of Jesus Christ, love God, and love others?
Is the chief goal to make everyone in the church have the same life standards that you have or is it to make disciples of Jesus Christ, love God, and love others?
Are we arguing about the side issues and completely missing the main event (the gospel)? I mean, when was the last time you heard someone that upset over the lack of souls being saved? Or the lack of people being invited to church services? Or the lack of people being discipled? Or the lack of love for God among God’s people? Where is the passion and burden for the mission of God’s people, like you hearing people debating immigration policy?
In recent years a head coach divorced his wife of 26 years when he left coaching a college team to become head coach in the National Football League. He said he needed a wife while coaching on the college level for social functions and to show families that he would be looking out for their sons. In pro football, however, she was an unnecessary distraction to winning. He said winning football was his number one priority and his two sons second. How tragic! (Source: Unknown). Whether a true story or not, I cannot verify (I was unable to track down the source). However, it does illustrate the absolute commitment to wrong priorities – and it destroyed his marriage. We may shake our heads in horror of such choices, but…there’s nothing wrong with winning, right? So, neither choice (winning football or his marriage) was evil by itself. Consider these important questions:
Are we guilty of taking two choices, both seemingly void of wickedness, and insisting on the death of the choice we reject?
Do we know if the Lord speaks dogmatically on one choice over the other?
Do we choose the option to which God gives higher priority in scripture?
If God gives both issues seemingly equal priority, do we still insist on the issue as black and white…or as, “my choice is better than yours — and your choice is wrong?”
Barnabas reflects on the situation …his decision is not sudden or without careful consideration.
Barnabas remains the “encourager” for the younger believer. This is consistent with the very description of what made him stand out in Acts 4 when we first met him… “the son of consolation.” It is also consistent with how Paul knew Barnabas to be when he first met Barnabas and no one else would have him.
Barnabas reveals his heart for John Mark (a young follower of Jesus), but perhaps misses the readiness level of his young friend (but this spectulation on my part as the Bible does not say).
Paul’s path is rehearsed in Acts 15:38.
Paul reflects on his past ministry.
Paul remains opposed to John Mark’s involvement with another missionary journey.
Paul reveals his focus is on the mission God gave him. However, perhaps he misses ministering to John Mark’s need for growth and encouragement…like he received when no one wanted him?
The outcome of this conflict is then given in Acts 15:39. Both men are convinced of opposite directions. Both choose new mission team partners and one missionary team becomes two.
Here are a few facts:
The Bible doesn’t tell us who was right and wrong
The Bible continues to follow Paul
The Bible speaks of Paul asking for John Mark
The Bible records the gospel of Mark
Here are a 4 findings:
One mission team became two!
Churches and people are both part of God’s plan
Don’t give up on those making mission mistakes
God is at work in church growth and people at the same time.
HOW DO WE MOVE FORWARD WHEN IN CONFLICT?
1. Listen to each other (Prov. 18:13) Do not “hear” only to think of what you want to say next… “listen” to understand what the other person is saying, BEFORE you respond.
3. Live to pursue the mission (Phil. 3:14). Major on what is major in God’s eyes. We can sometimes make a big deal out of things God has not made dogmatic in His Word. Pursue together what we do have in common as believers (making disciples, the gospel, visiting those in need, keeping unspotted from the world - James 1:27). To stand dogmatically against someone’s personal preference (that isn’t named as sin in the Bible) is to stand in pride (Prov. 16:18; James 4:6).
4. Look for help (Gal. 6:1; Prov. 11:14). Sometimes godly counsel is needed to intervene. Prayer is always needed and is vital.
5. Love those who oppose you (Matt. 5:44; 22:36-40; John 15:12). This will cause you to assume the best about them (I Cor. 13:7) and this will keep you from wrong motives, resentment, anger, and bitterness.
The story is told of two men who shared a hospital room. One man was by the window, and the other was by the hall. The man by the hall was angry because he wasn’t by the window. The man by the window would cheerfully relate to the other what he saw out the window. The angry man wished the other man would go home soon. Eventually the man by the window died, and the angry man was moved to the window, but when he looked out to see the view all he saw was another wall. (Source: Unknown)
Some people see the good in everything, while others see only the bad. Keep Jesus in your view when experiencing conflict!