36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
We safely returned from a successful short-term medical mission trip to the Philippines within God’s grace and everyone’s prayer and support. We supported Missionary HoiKwon Jeong’s ministry in Baguio City for the first couple of days, and we spent the rest of our time in Cabanatuan City helping Missionary Delacruz. The Philippines is a place that has not changed since ten years ago. Its economy and social level are about those of the 1970s Korea. We did go to a poor area, but most of the Filipino people did not receive medical benefits; many had very severe dental conditions that were difficult to treat, and we later realized that most families cannot even get toothbrushes or toothpaste. We treated nearly 200 people each day, and invited them to accept Christ. Since they were all patients who needed medical attention and they had to meet ministers to register prior to meeting doctors, it was very easy to preach the Gospel. We preached the Gospel to someone equivalent of a mayor of a small city, and at one elementary school we preached to all of its teachers and gave them a special lecture on future generation ministry through the word “Remnant”. One of the things we were more grateful of than anything else was that all members of the team became one with their own individual specialty to do this important work, which made everything go very smoothly. Missions is a spiritual warfare. When you are in a war, it is important to receive support from behind and also to fight with individual power. But ultimately, all comrades must become one and move in an orderly fashion.
1. The same rule applies to a family, work, and church. When we who have the Gospel become one within the Holy Spirit, miracles will take place continuously.
1) The fact that each of us knows the mystery of Christ (Gospel) and that we are within it is truly tremendous. We know well of the blessings and covenant that the Lord gave Peter who confessed that Jesus is the Christ in Mt.16:16-19. First, the Lord promised, “On this rock, I will build my church” because you are someone who believes in Jesus and was freed by the power of His blood. Second, the Lord said, “The gates of Hades shall not overcome you.” Satan is working within one’s life and the world, but he cannot defeat us in any circumstances. Christ who crushed the serpent’s head and resurrected gave us the authority of victory. Third, the Lord gave peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. God said He will be with you Himself. Whenever you pray in His name, the Lord who is with you will help, guide, and answer you.
2) When those who have this mystery become one and put their strength together, tremendous works have no choice but to take place everywhere they go. Especially when they form a team and achieve oneness for saving the world and people (evangelism and missions), unimaginable things are bound to take place. The Book of Acts we have been looking at is the account of those miraculous works.
a. That was what Jesus’ last prayer was about in Jn.17 (Oneness among God’s people who have the Gospel”).
b. Phil.2 refers this to as the “heart of Christ”. Discard all conflicts and lower yourself to become one. If you can, try to yield for the sake of the Gospel, evangelism and missions, and the name of Christ. Tremendous blessings are prepared for you (Blessings that Abraham received after yielding everything to Lot in Gen.13).
2. The problem is that we cannot always live this way. What do we have to do when conflicts inevitably occur? Today’s passage concerns that issue. A conflict broke out between two people who seemed as if they were never going to have a conflict with each other. What kind of people were Paul and Barnabas? It is written in Acts 11:24 that Barnabas was a good man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit. He was the one who led Paul to the Antioch Church. They later formed a team and began the world missions. But they got into an argument concerning whether or not they should take John Mark and parted their ways during the first mission trip in verse 39. Barnabas wanted to give him another chance, but Paul disagreed.
1) The motive behind the conflict is important.
a. Since Barnabas is recorded to be a nice person, he probably wanted to give John a second chance and take him with them. Some say he wanted to take him since he was his nephew (Col.4:10). Paul, who had a very strong and strict personality, must have said no since the trip would put John in a life-or-death situation.
b. There are many different types of fights. Sometimes, you must fight staking your life. It is when you fight for the truth. But even when you are fighting for the truth, the Lord does not want you to fight through quarrels. Jesus said, “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Mt.26:52)
c. Quarrels definitely belong to the devil (James 3:15-16). There are three things you must overcome in order not to fall into this trap. Sometimes, they become factors of conflicts and quarrels that block important answers. First is your own motive. When a person is full of selfish motives and calculations, he cannot see anything else but his own gains and losses. Second is your own standard. It is mostly formed from your personal experience (that includes scars), but you must always keep in mind that your thoughts and standards may be wrong and that they can block God’s great works (Different words come out looking at the same thing). Third is humane sympathy. You must go holding onto God’s important plan, but you cannot make an important resolution because you feel sympathetic and sorry for that person (weak-hearted). That was what Barnabas might have felt towards John Mark. This kind of humaneness can also become a channel for Satan.
2) How you fight is also important. There are many people who fight over the smallest things and part their ways afterwards. You must learn how to fight.
a. Do not be aroused by emotions, but fight rationally and biblically. It says in Eph.4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” There is a term “cognitive therapy” in psychology. Failures of many people are caused by emotionally-driven actions rather than rational judgments. You must build habits to think correctly to heal your emotional diseases and rule over the bad things that have been formed by habits (recommended reading – “10 Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make and How to Avoid Them”). In our terms, you must overcome emotional pain and failures through the Gospel-oriented, classy, and hopeful thoughts.
b. Fighting is part of training. Even among your brothers and sisters, you must grow up learning how to fight well. You must learn how to appeal your opinions (debates and letters), and also how to reflect back on yourself and become one.
c. Even if you do part your ways, do it in a Gospel-oriented fashion with some class.
We are people who must live as the “source of blessings”, “victorious”, and “witnesses for the blessings of Immanuel”. If we humble ourselves before God and walk the “path of fellowship” and “path of oneness”, God will make everything into a blessing. Jesus said in Mt.5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” If you really have to face a conflict, stand with the heart that you will work for the good and turn that into a blessing. Later on, Paul found this John Mark as a very needful person (2Tim.4:11). I bless and hope that you may enjoy this blessing.