This week in Storying we focused on Acts 15: 36-41. For some background Paul and Barnabas have returned to Antioch from their traveling church planting and they are appointed to address the false teaching of some people that were telling the new believers they had to circumcised in order to be saved and this was sowing confusion in the early church.
The Apostles and some elders gathered to discuss theology and what new believers had to do,if they were not of Hebrew background. The results of this was an understanding that the gentile believers needed to abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, from blood, and from what has been strangled, while also keeping away from sexually immoral behavior.
The early church and its leaders the Apostles were unified at this one time in history…then we get to verses 36-41 where Paul and Barnabas were planning to visit the areas they had planted and proclaimed the Gospel. Barnabas said we should bring John Mark with us and Paul was adamant that he was not going anywhere with John Mark because he had bailed on them in Pamphylia.
So Barnabas took John Mark and went via the sea while Paul took Silas and went by land. They parted company because of a past wrong and hurt feelings and Paul was not going to have any more of it. Was it a break in the church and fellowship, no. But it was a showing that not all was peaches and cream, even with the Apostles in the early church. They still had fleshly disagreements that resulted in damaged relationships.
So when someone asks why there are so many denominations and different types of Christian churches today, we might consider this split with Paul and Barnabas as an early example in the church where personalities conflicted and they could not travel. Now Paul and Barnabas did not have different theologies resulting in a schism, but it was just as difficult for people to get along then as it is now, which is something to remember.