Growth From Conflict

Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.’ Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work (Acts 13:13). Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. – Acts 15:36-40.

Last year (2001) the Edmonds, Washington city council decided to throw out a donated 60-year-old totem pole that they thought was cheap in appearance. On the way to the landfill, the totem pole took a detour to the home of Sydney Locke a demolition company employee. Sydney saw the totem pole in the trash bin liked what he saw, got it out, and took it home. For some unknown reason, city officials were upset by Locke’s actions, and filed a lawsuit to reclaim the totem pole as the legal owners. The council did not suddenly find an attraction, or use for the totem pole they just want to make sure it gets to the landfill and stays there.

I am not sure how the conflict between Sydney, and the city of Edmonds has worked out. However, one thing is sure, and that is that there will always be conflict of one kind or another. Conflict is not only encountered in the world but also in the church. The apostle Paul and Barnabas had a severe conflict over whether or not to take John Mark on the second missionary journey with them, and as a result, they parted company. Paul took Silas with him, and Barnabas took John Mark.

With the conflict of Paul and Barnabas, we can see that good and growth can come from it (Romans 8:28-29). First, we see that God was able to use this bad thing to double the number of missionary teams and the area covered. Second, we see that growth came to the life of John Mark. No one is sure why John Mark deserted during the first missionary journey. Some think it was the encounter of persecution that frightened him. Some think it was disease (Paul’s eye problem which some believe was his thorn in the flesh could have been caused by an infectious disease. Acts 23:2-5; Galatians 4:15; 6:11) encountered by the team that made him leave. Others think he was just homesick and tired, or it may have been some other, unknown reason. The great thing we see about this conflict is that Mark was not driven away from God. Instead, we see that Mark grew from this conflict, and most likely everyone involved including Paul grew as well. We know how the story ended, and it is recorded in 2 Timothy 4:11 where Paul writes, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.”

God can bring growth out of conflict if we allow Him to. First, we must resolve to always treat others involved according to the way Jesus would have treated them. Second, we must resolve to seek God’s will and purpose to be fulfilled. Third, we must seek to draw closer to God. Fourth, sometimes it is necessary to give yourself and others second chances. Barnabas was willing to give Mark another chance, but Mark had to be willing to try again. Finally, we see that the apostle Paul as a result of the actions of Barnabas and Mark was willing to give Mark another opportunity for ministry.

Are you involved in some kind of conflict? If you try the things listed above, most likely your conflict will be resolved, or neutralized; and you will find that you have grown as a child of God becoming more conformed (Romans 8:29) to the image of Christ.

(One thing is sure, and that is that there will always be conflict of one kind or another. Conflict is not only encountered in the world, but also in the church.)

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