After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. ~ Acts 15:36-41
So almost as quickly as a decision was made that would bring life and growth to the church, division and conflict took root among the very leaders who led the movement to change.
With the decision to allow Gentiles to come into the community without circumcision, the apostles sent out new leaders throughout the church in the region to spread the good news.
And now as the journey takes them out, Paul and Barnabas - whose leadership to this point has been a partnership for positive life in the fledgling church, have a disagreement so strong that they part company.
Our tendency as people of faith to separate ourselves into factions (or denominations or even religions) has been happening for a long time. For Christians, it's been happening since Paul and Barnabas.
Just possibly, this should help remove any notion of dualism for us in our communities of faith. Right, wrong. Good, bad...as far as our decision making goes. Two close leaders, who had agreed and helped each other so much, disagreed on something else to the point of needing to separate from each other.
Even the strongest of leaders have feet of clay.
Don't always get it right.
Don't always like each other.
Don't always support each other.
But hopefully, always forgive each other.
Acts does not make it clear, but later epistles of Paul's seem to indicate that Paul and Barnabas (and Mark) eventually made peace.
Which is the point, isn't it?
It isn't that we argue and disagree and have fights. We know we WILL do that.
But what do we do then? Where do we go?
Do we forgive?
Lord have mercy on me when I cling to my being correct, or right, or certain, over relationship with your people. Amen