Acts 15:36–41 When Two or More Disagree In My Name

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” Acts 15:36–41.

In a church community, everyone worships and prays together, inspired by the Word of God. If your church is anything like mine, people come with varying backgrounds, ethnic or cultural history, and political leanings. Even so, they are part of one family focused on worshiping God, like the early church where people from different nations and religious backgrounds gathered for a single, life-changing purpose.

In this kind of environment, however, disagreements still happen. We’re flawed humans, and our ever-present egos and pride get in the way as we find ourselves on one side of a dispute or the other.
In Matthew 5:24, Jesus has a solution to personal conflict within the church: “…leave your sacrifice there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” This is often practiced, but it’s not always possible.

When two people cannot resolve their differences, one should try to reconcile. At some point, however, if the chasm between them is too wide, they have a choice to make: continue to fight, and draw more people from the church into the skirmish until there is unrest around them, or “agree to disagree” and move on, allowing themselves (and others) to focus on what is truly, eternally, important – worshiping God and spreading the Gospel.

Paul was dead-set against Mark joining their ranks for the next leg of their journey. Both he and Barnabas quickly understood there was no resolving this difference of opinion. Paul went one way with Silas and Barnabas went another with Mark, but both kept their goal of visiting the churches a priority. Paul and Barnabas had been partners in working for the Gospel for so long, they understood that this disagreement shouldn’t hinder their calling.

We don’t need to agree with, or even like, everyone in our church. We do need to love them. In the end, we’re on the same side, even if we’re Fighting the Good Fight from opposite sides of the room. There will be moments when the best way to love someone is to do so from a distance. Otherwise an unresolvable disagreement can become a divisive battle which hurts the church body around us.


Lord, let us not be so caught up in trying to be right that we hinder Your kingdom work. If the day comes when I have an insurmountable disagreement with my brother or sister, may we both be led by the Spirit to remember our common ground and continue to do Your work, even if separately.