Acts 15:36-41 (NRSV)
After some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
This scripture reading reminds me of another which says, "To everything there is a season, and a time for everything under the heavens." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
I have lived long enough to know that there are just some times when you need to bid a friend, "Go in peace."
Sometimes we try to hold on to a friendship long after the season for it has died. This is really sad because God gives us our friends as a gift to treasure. Just as some gifts are temporary (e.g., an ice cream cone) and others last a life time (e.g., a diamond ring), some friendships are temporary and others last forever.
In Paul's case, his friendship with Barnabus had been wonderful! Barnabus had been his friend and defender. Together they had evangelized many Gentiles and seen many souls come to believe in Jesus! Their friendship was legendary and It opened many doors of opportunity for the good news about Jesus to be shared with Jews and Gentiles alike.
However, when the season for their close association ended, they had the wisdom to "part ways," whilst continuing to share their faith with others!
Now, we all know that they could have gotten angry, gone off in a huff, abandoned their ministries, and ultimately walked away from the church. I've seen this happen in churches many, many times.
I am so glad that Paul and Barnabus did not do this! Even in the midst of their anger, pain, and "sharp disagreement," they clung to the cross and to the blessed assurance that Jesus saves and He saves to the utmost!
I am so glad that my friendship with Jesus is paramount in my life! Even when others have forsaken me, Jesus never has! Even when I have been at my worst, God has stubbornly refused to let me go!
Dear Ones, do not be afraid to allow a friendship to go on sabbatical, or even to end, when the season for it is over.
Savor the happy memories! Love one another still; go in peace.
Entrust your friend into the loving arms of God who gave Jesus to die on the cross to save us from our sin and gift us with eternal life. There is no safer place for him/her to be!
Will you find the courage to pronounce a benediction over a friendship whose season is over?
If so, please pray with me:
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
If you have questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, “Come to Jesus” @ http://bit.ly/JVhaL