A Church Disagreement

In Acts 15 we learn about what is called a “sharp disagreement” in the NIV translation.

Here’s a bigger chunk of that story in Acts 15:36-41,

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.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 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. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Essentially Barnabas wants to take John Mark on an upcoming journey with Paul, but Paul has been burned by John Mark before and he won’t go with him. The disagreement was so bad that Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways, despite Barnabas being a key figure in Paul’s development as an apostle.

Most Christians hate disagreement, and rightfully so…The Bible does put a strong emphasis on the unified church and unity within the body (which I take to mean both universal church and local churches). It was Mark who talked about a house divided being unable to stand before Mr. Abe Lincoln.

As I’ve written about before, a year ago my church began a difficult journey around a church disagreement. This one being between the then senior pastor and the Session (elder board). It would be fair to call it a “sharp disagreement.”

During the months of dealing with the disagreement in order to find some sort of resolution, I heard so many say things like, “There’s no way God can be glorified in this. This is just sinful people tarnishing the name of the Lord.”

And while I understand the sentiment and certainly within the emotions of the disagreement, it makes sense…I don’t think we fully understand how God can work in the midst of disagreement.

Is it good that church disagreements are so commonplace today? Absolutely not.

Is it fair to assume God can’t work in the midst of the disagreement for His glory? Absolutely not.

We show our lack of faith and misunderstanding of God’s power when we begin to assume that he can’t be honored in the middle of upheaval.