Riding on the aftermath of Jerusalem Council, we all expect that the missionary partnership between Barnabas and Paul shall remain forever; but a first and final crack suddenly appears from nowhere. It all begins as both of them plan their next missionary trip. Luke wrote:
The divisive issue could be seen in Acts 15:37-40, It is concerning Mark. He was with them during the first missionary trip, but somewhere along the way, he choose to go home. Mark’ action somehow disappoint Paul, and when Barnabas chose to invite Mark, he boldly refused. Unlike Barnabas, who is more forgiving, Paul refused to extend such kindness to someone who left them. But the question is, Wasn’t that a trivial matters? How could such issue leads to a “sharp disagreement” between two spiritually matured and mission minded person?
The argument regarding Mark’ involvement might be the tip of the iceberg. Probably, both of them have been harboring something against each other. Maybe, there is a hidden enmity that lies beneath their ministry; and once a small crack appeared, it exploded in a magnanimous way. We need to remember that Barnabas always hold a special place for broken and neglected people. As he extend his kindness and acceptance toward Paul, he did the same with Mark. He never judged someone based on their failure, but based on the love of God. Maybe this is what hurt Barnabas the most. As his close friend,shouldn’t Paul already knows this? As someone whom he had supported before, shouldn’t Paul be more gracious toward Mark?
But Barnabas is not without fault as well. In Gal. 2:13, Paul accused Barnabas of joining the hypocrisy of Christian Jews. This event happened on the aftermath of Jerusalem council, as a number of Jerusalem members visited Antioch Church and dined together with them.
The story of Barnabas and Paul served as a warning to everyone, that no matter how spiritual someone is, conflict is always imminent. Misunderstanding and a clash of personality eventually will occurred. The fact that both of them are filled by the holy spirit, yet unable to solve their personal problems, signifies the complexities of human nature and the fragilities of friendship. It also clarifies how God can use this conflict as a means of advancing the gospel; because now, there are two missionary team which bless the church abundantly.