GET ACQUAINTED: What irritates you more than anything?
SCRIPTURE: (Acts 15:36-16:5 ) “And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other.”
Open your time together with prayer. NOTE: This is only a guide! Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.
The Holy Spirit chose Paul and Barnabas to be missionaries (Acts 13:2 ), and the church of Antioch sent them off. Paul and Barnabas took John Mark along as a helper and traveled through many Gentile areas with the gospel. They were “men who . . . risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:25 ). Halfway through their journey, Mark left Paul and Barnabas, and this became a point of contention later. As they planned a second missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas disagreed on whether or not to take John Mark again. Paul was determined not to bring him, due to his forsaking them previously. Barnabas, ever the encourager, was unwilling to leave John Mark behind. A “sharp disagreement” arose between them, and they parted ways. From that point on, Barnabas traveled with John Mark, and Paul chose Silas as his companion in ministry (Acts 15:36 –41).
From the relationship of Paul and Barnabas we can draw an important lesson. Here were two godly men, loved by the churches, filled with the Spirit, enduring persecution together, seeing people saved, and enjoying an effective ministry. Yet they were fallible and did not see eye to eye on everything. They quarreled and parted ways. Even the best and most faithful among us are prone to the interpersonal conflicts and mistakes. We are all fallen human beings. The ministries of both men continued—in fact, the number of missionary teams doubled! God can use even our disagreements to further His work.
Paul and Barnabas continued to depend on God. They moved forward peacefully, even though it meant parting ways. In matters of personal opinion and practical procedure, Paul and Barnabas differed. In matters of doctrine, they both saw the necessity of sharing the gospel with the world. They were united in what is truly important.
Portions excerpted from gotquestions.org
- Role play how you think Paul and Barnabas split up. With which one would you have sided? Why?
- When is it a sin to belong to a particular denomination? Are denominations by definition sinful? Defend your answer biblically.
- How does liking someone interface with loving him (or her)? Is it wrong not to like everyone?
- When my personality clashes with someone else’s, how do I know when I cross the line into sin?
- How can we work at genuine Christian unity with other believers? What practical steps can we take?
Personal Application: Christians must be committed to maintain unity and to continue serving the Lord in spite of personality clashes.
Prayer of commitment: Father, I pray that you would help me be a peace maker. Help me to be a person who nurtures unity instead of creating disunity. Thank You for seeing past my character flaws and still loving me. Father give me the ability to do the same with those who “rub me wrong”. Father I pray that the next time I have conflict with a brother in Christ that You would remind me of Matthew 18:15-20 . Lastly, help me not to judge people based on how far they have to go, but how far they’ve come. In Jesus’ name, amen.