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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Different Yet One

Differing approaches and insights to ministry, which sometimes bring division in a church, can actually bring healing to the whole body–when each considers the other as valid as his own. This is a statement that I believe with all my heart. If my goal is His truth and it is the same goal as another’s, then any differences are nothing in comparison to the ultimate purpose of His Good News.

One of the greatest examples of this is found in the lives of Paul and Barnabas. Paul was a leader. His mind was on the overall mission ministry. His focus and his purpose was to spread the Good News. Even though he was part of this mission ministry, Barnabas' focus was not just on that aspect of ministry. His mind was focused on the potential of John Mark who needed guidance and encouragement. What was Barnabas' goal? It was to help John Mark mature enough to be a viable witness. The approach was different, but the ultimate goal was the same.

Let's look at 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” (NIV).

They disagreed and they parted company. It was necessary for Paul to keep the overall ministry going. Paul did not have time to be weighed down with John Mark, who had once before deserted them. He could not use him and saw no potential in him. Paul was ready to move on. However, Barnabas saw something in John Mark that Paul could not see. He realized John Mark's potential. He believed if he invested his time in John Mark's life, then John Mark would mature into a viable witness for Christ.

Both views of ministry are absolutely necessary and each is as important as the other. Without the leaders whose minds and hearts are focused on the corporate ministry, there would be no ministry. Without ones like Barnabas, who realize potential and focus on individual growth, there would be no individuals to participate in ministry. The beauty is that after Barnabas took time with John Mark, he grew so much, that Paul invited him back into ministry. If Barnabas had not believed in John Mark, he would have never found his way back. If Paul hadn't believed in the overall ministry, and had allowed John Mark to go with them, then the overall ministry would have suffered. The two approaches ultimately came together for God's purpose.

That is what makes ministry beautiful to me. God has called each one of us in specific areas. When we see things differently, instead of thinking they are so far apart, we need to realize that they really aren't. That is how the body works when approach to ministry is different. You see the promise in each perspective, whether it is corporate, like Paul's, or individual, like Barnabas'. The end result is a beautiful tapestry of God's making. It is the different parts of the body, working together in unity to weave His best.

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