Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Friends are friends FOREVER...right?

Acts 15:36-41 (NRSV)

Paul and Barnabas separate

On the face of it, the scripture reading for today is appalling! Paul and Barnabus who have been friends for the entire length of Paul’s Christian ministry have a falling out over a “ministry helper.” Barnabus wanted to journey with John Mark; Paul had no such desire. He was still disappointed with John Mark for deserting them and their important work the last time they had worked as evangelists together. Instead of resolving the conflict as you would imagine “saints” would, they became so angry, and the disagreement became so sharp, that they decided to “part ways.”

How could this type of fight happen between two men who so passionately loved Jesus? After all, Barnabus was a strong Christian. He had known Paul when he was still Saul. It was Barnabus who first believed that the old Saul was dead and the new Paul was sincere in his love for Jesus and his desire to bring the GOOD NEWS to the Gentiles. It was Barnabus who brought Paul to the Chrisitians in Rome and who made sure that he was well received and trained for the work ahead. Together, Paul and Barnabus had been evangelizing with good success leading many a soul to Christ. How could they allow anything to come between them? They were brothers!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen these types of fallings-out in churches before and when they happen there is heartbreak enough to go around. But, let me tell you something. Paul and Barnabus did a wise thing when they agreed to disagree, yet continue their work. So often, when people fight in the church, the work of sharing GOOD NEWS falls by the way side. People get so caught up in the conflict, that they forget that there are people in need of love and care. We turn our eyes to earthly things and forget about the heavenly pursuits to which we have been assigned like feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, or caring for the sick, imprisoned, orphaned or widowed.

Now, here’s the GOOD NEWS! Paul and Barnabus set a wonderful example for us contemporary Christians to follow. Although they were very angry, they kept their eyes on the prize. They agreed to part ways, but still get the work done. I think Paul and Barnabus were wise enough to realize that the Bible is right when it says, “To everything there is a season and a time for everything under the heavens.” They realized that even relationships can be seasonal. This is hard for us to accept as human beings. We want our friends to be friends forever. But, this is not always so. Sometimes God brings a friend or co-laborer into your life for a season, to do the work that is needed, and then you part ways so that greater works can be accomplished in the one vineyard of the Lord.

My friends, let us not kick against the pricks. When the season for a relationship is done, let it go…After you’ve tried all that you know to do to resolve conflict and reconcile with a sister or brother and it comes to no avail, gently place them into the hand of God. Love them, forgive them, and bless them to go in peace! God wants to use both of you in new ways and perhaps in new places. If you don’t surrender the relationship you won’t live into your greater purpose!

Have you noticed that the season has changed for a relationship in your life? Can you surrender that person to God today?

God, you are all about relationship! Help us to love and nurture our friendships and never to take them for granted. When the season ends for a friendship, help us to treasure the happy memories and release them into your loving care. We want to keep our focus on you and your kingdom goals, not our petty squabbles. In Jesus Name, Amen.

*The entire scripture reading for today can be found by clicking the ELCA Daily Bible Reading Tab to the right.

*from Pastor Yolanda's blog http://aintathatgoodnews.blogspot.com/

*EACH ONE--REACH ONE! To share GOOD NEWS with a friend please click the "Share With Friends" button to the right! Thanks for reading and please come again.

*Pastor Yolanda extends a very special welcome to our friends reading outside of the United States of America! We are honored that you are sharing with us. Today, we are especially praying for the people in Australia who have been affected by the fires.

*Check out the map to the right! Do you know anyone in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, South America, Australia, Africa, Western Europe, or Asia that you can share GOOD NEWS with today?

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