Verse: Acts 15:36-41
36 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.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 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. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Timothy Keller in his book “The Reason for God” talks about “counter-productive content” in the Bible. He asserts that one of the evidences for the validity of the Bible is all the instances of what he calls counter-productive content. In other words, if someone was making this stuff up and writing to make everyone seem better than they were (i.e., the stuff of legends) than why would they include all this content that shows Jesus as weak and the disciples as misfits: Jesus praying for the cup the to pass, Jesus crying out that God has forsaken him, Peter being rebuked and called Satan, etc. His point is that the only reason you would include those counter-productive stories is that they are reporting what actually happened.
This story in Acts 15 is another example of this. Why put this into the story of the early church if they were making this stuff up? The guy who ends up writing a large portion of our New Testament gets into a disagreement with his good friend and ends up having to part ways! What is great about this story is that it sounds so human. It sounds so much like something we all experience. And that’s because it is!
And the encouragement is this: God still used them to touch the lives of so many people. And he will do the same with us. Think of all the verses Paul will pen in the coming years to talk about having a deep love for one another, and forgiving one another, and carrying each other’s burdens. We get a glimpse into the humanity of the early followers of Jesus who weren’t all that different from you and I. They struggle. They have bad days. They have doubts. They don’t get along. They fail. But they keep getting back up, learning from their mistakes, and pursuing Jesus. And God keeps using them.
Today, I wonder if you are feeling particularly down or disconnected from God for some reason. Is there something going on in your life that makes you question whether God has any interest in using you? Take this story to heart. Allow the Lord to encourage you this morning. You may be struggling right now, that’s true. But God isn’t going to leave you. He is going to walk with you through this time, and he can see the other side. And even in the struggle, God wants to use you. He hasn’t given up on you. In fact. He’s just getting started with you.
Take my brokenness God. I give you my weakness and my failures. I pray that all that I am would be yours. Use me however you see fit. I am yours.
Author: Christian Dunn