Has anyone left you high and dry?
Has anyone, whom you counted on to be there with you and for you, walked out on you?
Is a business partner, a co-worker, a ministry partner, a brother or sister in Christ, a friend or a family member no longer in your life?
Does the hurt ever go away? Can the trust ever be rebuilt? Can the relationship be rescued?
How does God feel about each person in this broken relationship?
Do you know the relational challenges of the author of the Gospel of Mark? John Mark, the author of one of the four biographies of Jesus Christ, had some major relational challenges.
Most likely, he came to know Christ through the preaching of Peter. His mother was Mary, the owner of the house where the church gathered to pray for Peter as he was in prison after James was martyred. Mark was also the cousin of Barnabas.
When God called the Antioch Church to send out two of their five pastors to share the Great News of Jesus and start new churches, Paul and Barnabas brought Mark with them as a "helper." Something happened on that first missionary, church planting journey that caused a relational rift between Paul and Mark. Mark left and went back to Jerusalem.
After returning home from their first mission, Paul and Barnabas sensed God calling them to go again and encourage those new churches.
"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."Acts 15:37-40
The desertion deeply hurt Paul so much that he not only did not want Mark to be with him as a ministry partner but that he even parted ways with Barnabas, his missionary brother. What a relational and ministry tragedy. How did this affect the church and those new church plants? How was the evil one going to exploit this? How will people twist this and who will take whose side? Will God step in and help?
As a minister for over 25 years, I have experienced relational rejection as well. As I have close relationships with dozens and dozens of church planters and pastors, each of us have had similar but unique relational challenges with ministry partners just like Paul, Mark and Barnabas. I am sure all people have.
Is there hope?
Paul wrote, "My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him." Col 4:10
Paul wrote, "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings, as do Mark, Aristarchus,Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers." Philemon 1:24
Paul wrote, "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 Tim 4:11
To go from deserter to follow ministry partner and restored brother is the miracle work of Jesus.
The author of the Gospel of Mark, is the story of a restored deserter. Only Jesus is the God who lovingly heals, restores and uses deserters like Mark. Only Jesus is the God who lovingly heals, restores and uses former tax collector (Matthew), former Gentile doctor (Luke), former greedy son of thunder (John), former violent zealot (Simon), former intellectual doubter (Thomas).
Only Jesus is the God who can lovingly heal, restore and use you.
Let's be overwhelmingly grateful. Let's be fully willing to do whatever our Healer and Restorer wants us to do today and every day.
Worshiping and following Jesus together,