Conflict and Change

I sometimes think about what it would have been like to travel with the apostles, spreading the gospel and following God as the first missionaries.  The apostle Paul had a reputation that most likely intimidated and unnerved most of his companions.  His boldness often got him into trouble.  Silas was beaten and place in prison. Others suffered with Paul.  Quite a few companions were unable to simply keep up.  John Mark might have fallen into this last category.

Mark joined Paul and Barnabas on their first trip which set out from Antioch.  They sailed to Cyprus and traveled across that island, preaching and teaching and ministering wherever they went.  After that, they went to Pamphylia (modern Turkey).  Scripture simply says that at that point, Mark left the team and returned to Jerusalem.  Later, Paul refused to allow Mark to join him on another trip because he thought Mark had abandoned the first team and the work they were doing. Barnabas thought Mark deserved a second chance.

By the time the missionary team departed, Barnabas had decided to take Mark on a different outreach and Silas became Paul’s new missionary partner.  Later Biblical comments make it clear that none involved considered this a permanent rift.

Conflicts can be opportunities to clarify ideas, expectations, and goals.  They may bring into the open what needs to be changed.  Even good change rarely happens without conflict.  Mark probably didn’t enjoy the fact that Barnabas and Paul separated over him, but he had to appreciate that someone believed he was worth another chance.  Mark eventually grew into a godly disciple whom Paul counted as a trusted friend.  Conflict can lead to good endings. Isn’t it great that we serve the God of the second chance?  Even when we were sinners, He came and died for us so that He could make a way to settle the conflict between Him and us.  We didn’t deserve it.  But He did it anyway.  Doesn’t that just make you feel so astonished sometimes???  What an amazing God!

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