Last week, I shared with you the life of two spirit-filled Christian men, Paul and Barnabas. I found myself thinking about these two men, their relationship and their passion for the Gospel, even long after I finished last week’s post.
I truly believe that it was the Holy Spirit that knitted these two Jewish men together. Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin and Barnabas was from the tribe of Levi. It was Barnabas who spoke up for Paul as we read in the Book of Acts 9:26-31 And when Saul (Paul) was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. These men became companions in the work of ministry for the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet there are times when a disagreement can cause companions to part ways and so it was with Paul and Barnabas.
A PARTING OF ~WAYS
What I love about Paul and Barnabas is how they did not allow their disagreements to halt their work in the ministry. No doubt they must of had some disagreements along the way, and the Book of Acts speaks of one occasion. 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. I feel compelled to share this, because I have experienced a “parting of ways” so to speak and I bet many of you have too. In my case, I had a close friend in the ministry and we worked side-by-side in the faith for many years. But we allowed frivolous issues to cause a great divide. And this great divide has gone on longer than the years we walked together in the faith. But as the Holy Spirit would have it, my once companion in the faith and I have met up again recently on three separate occasions. All praises to be to God, the bond is on the mend. You see, “We are crucified with Christ.” I’m sure this was Paul’s conclusion when he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark (John) and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. Over time, and by the power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, hearts and attitudes are changed and bring glory to God. This is, in part, what it means to be crucified with Christ. To settle those disagreements by dying to self and yet living a resurrected life to bring honor and glory to God.
As I spent time in God’s word and meditating on this phrase, to be crucified with Christ, I realized that the crucifixion was not just about killing Jesus, the person. It was about stopping His mission. It wasn’t just about ending His life; it was about ending the gift of eternal life. Isn’t it just like God to take what was intended for evil and use it for good. Because instead of it stopping the mission, Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection catapulted the mission in that there was now “the good news” to spread. I believe that Satan had attempted to use Paul and Barnabas’s sharp disagreement in an effort to stop their mission of spreading the good news. While they had parted their ways for a season, their relationship was restored because they allowed themselves to be crucified with Christ and for Christ to live within them … living the resurrected life.
LIVING THE RESURRECTED LIFE
Galatians 2:19-21 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” There is tremendous freedom in living and walking in the Spirit by the grace given to us through Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection.
Never allow severed bonds to cause your faith in Jesus to be weaken or to cause you to abandon your mission, or work in the ministry. If like Paul, you’ve truly been crucified with Him, then you know that the cause of Christ is what’s most important. Both Paul and Barnabas put their mission, Christ’s mission, above all else – even above their friendship. For them, it wasn’t about who was right or wrong. It was about pressing forward. Like in last week’s post, they were running for other people’s lives. Having said that, when the Holy Spirit presents you with those opportunities to reconcile with others, we should take full advantage of them. God desires for us to work in and be in unity with our fellow labors in the work.
And so friends I leave you with this, thus it is written, “When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32 Every time you and I share the gospel, we are lifting Jesus up and the Holy Spirit is still drawing people unto Him. What greater reason could we have to be crucified with Christ and to live a resurrected life!