When the church lets you down, sometimes you are left with no choice but to leave. Sometimes you have to walk away. Whether it is sin that separates or dividing of the truth, sometimes the Lord’s will is to go your separate ways.
I didn’t understand how this was possible, or even probable of the Lord to allow these separations to happen. Why was it necessary to separate from the church body where we had been planted? Why do Christians disagree in such a manner? I quickly learned that people like me fill our churches today and in the past.
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.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. ~Acts 15:36-41 ESV
Two men, Paul and Barnabas, dear friends and fellow workers in the furthering of God’s Kingdom shared a sharp disagreement. Good men, worthy of praise, and set as examples before us allowed their passions to over take them causing them to divide … split … separate.
This stands as a reminder to us that Jesus is the only copy by which there is no spot or blemish. Because of this truth, we should not be surprised that good and wise men will disagree and even separate.
Even those that are united to one and the same Jesus, and sanctified by one and the same Spirit, have different apprehensions, different opinions, different views, and different sentiments in points of prudence. It will be so while we are in this state of darkness and imperfection; we shall never be all of a mind till we come to heaven, where light and love are perfect. That is charity which never fails. ~Matthew Henry Commentary on Acts 15
Perfection within the church and among the body of believers will not exist until Jesus returns. Oh, come, Lord Jesus, come!
But regardless of what separates, the promise that God works all things for our good and for His glory still remains. You can ask God to make good on this promise when the church lets you down and you go your separate ways.
Paul and Barnabas went on with Silas and John Mark (respectively) to have significant ministries. Each went their own way because of a disagreement, and God used it to spread His Gospel even further!
Separation between those in the body of Christ is sad. It can hurt and if we have allowed idols to take their unworthy seats in our hearts, it can down right shake our faith. But separation doesn’t always mean the Gospel will not prevail, will not go forth, and sometimes, just sometimes, this suffering is meant to take God’s Word further in a way it never could if you had stayed bound to your church home.
So take heart, dear sister, that God has not turned His back on you or the church. God’s heart for the church and for His gospel still remains. And as a child of God, you have a part to play. This testing of your faith is not meant to embitter your heart, but it is part of an overarching plan to make Him known. Jesus is the only perfection by which we must submit ourselves to comparison. This side of heaven there will be disagreements, some that separate the body, but all things will always be worked together for the good of those who love Him and for His glory.
Part 7 – Remember There are Seasons