Thursday, May 28, 2009

Colossians 4:7-11 "Reconciliation"

Read Colossians 4:7-11.

"My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas." NIV
Paul is giving his final greetings as he closes this letter to the church at Colosse. Casually read, no lessons may seem to pop out from these last twelve verses. However, I've found six lessons I think we will focus on over the next few days. It's amazing what you can learn from goodbyes.

Paul sends greetings from Mark. Now what is interesting about this is Paul and Mark had a fallout previously. You see Mark referred to as Mark, John Mark, and John. They are all the same person that wrote the second gospel, Mark, and is the cousin of Barnabas. If you look in Acts 13:13, John Mark leaves the missionary group to go back to Jerusalem. There is speculation about his reasons for leaving. Some think he left because he was homesick for Jerusalem, while others believe it was because of change of the plan due to Paul's illness or change of leadership from Barnabas to Paul. Whatever the reason was, Paul seems to have taken it personally. In Acts 15:37-40 Paul and Barnabas get into a disagreement about Mark joining them. Paul is so against Mark coming because "he had deserted them in Pamphylia" that Barnabas takes Mark and goes one way while Paul takes Silas and goes another.

They have obviously worked out their differences by the writing of this letter and also the letter to Philemon, where Paul sends his greetings from Mark. In fact, five years later in 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul instructs Timothy to "get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry."

So what do we learn from this relationship between Paul and Mark? Three things -- sometimes others will seem to desert us; some will work to restore relationships; there is always the hope of reconciliation.

One thing I've learned in the ministry is that because people are at various levels of commitment to Christ, some will stay through thick and thin and some will go. Mark obviously was struggling on some level. Maybe he and Paul had a personality conflict or maybe he really was homesick. Some people will just push through the personal feelings to accomplish the mission. But not everyone is capable of or at the right place in their life to do that. And we as believers need to give the grace needed at that time for them to work through their "stuff."

Barnabas (the Encourager) worked hard to restore Paul and Mark's relationship. He defended Mark and tried to show Paul the value of bringing him along. But Paul had lost some trust in Mark and his devotion to the mission. I can't blame Paul. Having been "burned" before, I can understand not wanting to jump into the fire again. But sometimes, we need to listen to those around us to give us a better, less personal, perspective on a situation. Barnabas was that voice. But Paul needed more time.

We don't know how the reconciliation happened, but by this letter and the letter to Philemon, Mark was back to work with Paul as a valued ministry partner. There is always hope to reconcile a relationship if both parties are willing to compromise a little. Paul needed to afford a little more grace, and Mark needed to step up to the plate. Evidently, they met in the middle. For those of us who are all about the ministry at whatever cost, it's difficult to give grace to those who just don't seem to get it. Sacrifice is always involved to accomplish something worthwhile, and self-centered thinking will get in the way every time. On the other hand, we need to let people walk their own journey -- some taking longer than others. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, we are working together for the common goal of the kingdom. It will just take patience and perseverance to get there.

Further Thoughts:
  1. Read through the various passages sited, as well as, some of the book of Mark to get a better perspective on the situation.
  2. Are you sold out to the mission of Christ or still dragging your heels? You will not find a perfect ministry, but you can determine to work hard, remain loyal, and stay true to the ministry you are in. The main goal is reaching people for Christ. Everything else is superfluous.
  3. Do you have a conflict with someone in leadership over you? Go to them and talk it out. One part of the body cannot fight another part and the body survive.
  4. Are you struggling with dealing with uncommitted believers? Ask God for more grace and then go bring that person alongside of you. Mentor them into a stronger relationship with God and the mission of the Church.

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