2000 years ago Paul and Barnabas traveled around Asia minor planting churches, creating disciples, transforming a Greek god dominated religion to Christianity. The trip originally included John Mark but when they went to Pamphylia, John Mark bailed. We don’t really know why John Mark left the missionary work, but he did. John Mark was a quitter. The guy only made it to a couple of cities before he ran back home to his mommy. He wasn’t quitting something petty, he left in the middle of something big, a world changing mission! Nothing back home was that important to interrupt this work.
Now some time later Paul wants to go back and check in on the new churches. Ever the encourager, Barnabas wants to give John Mark another try but Paul is against it. (Acts 15:36-40)
Paul in essence says the work of God is too important to include less than our best people. (John Mark) Paul would say the mission was too epic to risk bringing someone who isn’t 100%
Barnabas says this work of God is too important not to show grace and mercy. (John Mark) Barnabas would say the person who made a mistake is still valuable and needed.
Barnabas, his cousin, was able to forgive him, but Paul didn’t have it for this quitter.
Which side are you on?
If someone you knew quit while you were playing a board game or a basketball game would you want them on your team again? What if you were doing something even more important than a game and they let you down? What do you do when a friend seems to quit on your friendship by never calling, texting or visiting? Is your first instinct to forgive or to ignore the offender?
When someone does something to you that hurts you or your goals, you NEED to forgive them. (even if they don’t ask) The logical next question is does the forgiveness you give change the relationship dynamics or try to keep it the same? Do you see that in the story above?
Paul said you hurt me and our relationship is changed. You will not have the chance to hurt this mission again.
Barnabas said you hurt me and I’m trying to keep things the same. I want to show you forgiveness AND more grace than you deserve.
It’s interesting to look at the leaders to see how they dealt with failure in others. Later on we see that Mark earned respect from Paul. So Paul did forgive it just looked different.
In Colossians 4:10-11 – my fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me.
2 Timothy 4:11 – Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
If you’re divorced, you can still do something great for God. If you had a child outside of marriage, you can still do something great for God. If you were addicted, you can still do something great for God. If you made a huge error in judgement, you can still do something for God. You are not defined by your mistakes. If your church defines you like that, find a new church because God doesn’t define you by failures. GRACE!