Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers 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…went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Acts 15:36–41,NIV 1984).
My Musings – Disagreement are a fact of life. Some leave lasting consequences (see above comic), while some are resolved quite favorably. The author of Acts records a sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, who up to this point had been partners in their missionary journey. The disagreement centered around John Mark, who had deserted them in an earlier trip. Barnabas believed he deserved a second chance (perhaps Barnabas saw some growth and maturity), whereas Paul did not.
While it is unfortunate that this disagreement was so contentious that it resulted in a parting of the ways, it has a happy ending. Paul later writes to Timothy about another instance of desertion (Demas). “Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:9–11, NIV 1984). The general consensus among scholars is that this is the same Mark that Paul once believed was not useful in his ministry.
My Advice – Not all disagreements result in dissension. And when they do, not all end up with a harmonious reconciliation. Sometimes, the issues are of such importance that we must disagree (e.g., doctrinal issues). Hopefully these result in bringing about correction rather than division. When they are about lesser matters (eg., debatable issues), we should not let them escalate into discord (“why not rather be wronged“). But when they do, make every effort, (“as far as it depends on you,“) to restore the relationship.
We do not know how Mark went from being considered not useful to be considered useful. Likely there was growth and maturity on the part of both Paul (yes, giants in the faith still have room for growth and maturity) and Mark. Not all disagreements (especially sharp one) have happy endings like this. May all your disagreements have happy endings.