When Old Friends Part Ways

“They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.”
Acts 15:39 (NIV)

The two men who had such a strong disagreement were Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas, the “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36) was Paul’s greatest benefactor.

Due to Barnabas’ great help, Paul was the greatest missionary spirit of the ages. Two wonderful men of God and they had such an explosive disagreement that they parted ways, never to be working together again.

Why is it that followers of the Prince of Peace can have such quarrels and part ways in anger? It is obvious that from the first generation of the Christian Church, believers have had quarrels and divided.

Even when Judas Iscariot was in the act of betraying our Lord (Matthew 26:50) Jesus called him “friend”. As you read of the brutal treatment Jesus suffered in the betrayal through to His death on the cross, He never retaliated in kind against His tormentors.

Jesus made it very clear to Peter and the rest in Gethsemane that if He had any thought of retaliation He could have called “more than 12 legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53) to deal with His tormentors. A legion had 6,000 men on foot as well as mounted soldiers.

How is it then, with such a remarkable example in our Lord, we still become stubborn and refuse to budge from our position in things that are not of eternal consequence? I often ask quarrelling people, “Five minutes into heaven, how important will this matter be to you?”

If you have received rough treatment from the church as a pastor, if your love and hard work to put your husband through training for an executive position results in him leaving you, if your beloved children do not grow up to honour their father and mother, you have some idea of the sorrow in our Lord’s heart when His people part ways in anger.

Jesus died to make His people one body. Ephesians 2:13-18 speaks clearly that the work of Jesus was to make a united people from former enemies. God’s love is poured into all Christians’ hearts (Romans 5:5). How is it then that we are able to fight this love and quarrel with each other?

If you have been involved in a church dispute that was not your fault, then seek to heal the wounds. Go the second mile (Matthew 5:4) or turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and as far as possible live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).

Behave toward your enemy as Jesus did toward those who fought against Him and you shall fulfil the will of God for your life. Seek the good for that Christian who has turned on you and you shall be blessed by your Father in heaven. Our Lord did good to all people, especially those of the household of faith and so ought we (Galatians 6:10).

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