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Jun 09 7:47 AM

Relational Distance

Jun 09 7:47 AM
Jun 09 7:47 AM

 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Acts 15:36-40

 

 


Today, I want to talk to you about something that might throw you through a little bit of a loop, but it's really important. It's the concept of relational distance. Here's where I'm coming from. First of all, the Bible says that if you are a Christian you must love everybody, you don't get a choice. God loved you unconditionally. We love as he first loved us. If he loved us unconditionally, we have to love people unconditionally. You don't get a choice in this. Unless you want to be disobedient to God, you have to love all people, but not all people are truly lovable. So what's the rub? You have to love all people but not all people are lovable. What's the rub? The rub is this. There are some people you must learn to love from a distance.

I want to talk to you about a passage in the book of Acts. I found it very fascinating. It's the account of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. They're really good friends and they're getting ready to do a missionary journey. In Acts 15, they have a Christian fight. I'd like to see that on pay per view. Let's get ready to rumble! Paul versus Barnabas the Missionary! Anyway, enough of that. So the Apostle Paul and Barnabas are getting ready to go on a missionary journey, they have a Christian fight, and we are witness to it in Acts 15:36-40. It says, 'Sometime later, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers and all the towns where we preach the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 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.'

So, in other words, Barnabas said, "Come on, let's take John Mark." John is also known as John Mark, he wrote the Gospel of Mark. Paul said, "Nah, I tried that already. He deserted us." There are two things happening that maybe you wouldn't read or know from the text. First, they have different personalities. Paul was more of a task achievement guy. He loved people, but he had to get the job done, the mission that God gave him - see Acts 20:24 where he says, "Nothing else, but the mission God gave me." Now Barnabas' name literally means Son of Encouragement. He was a little bit more on the people side. So he asks Paul to give John Mark a second chance, but Paul said, "I gave him a first chance, it didn't work." That's the first thing.

Here's the second thing, John Mark was Barnabas' cousin. So he knew him a little bit better, and there was maybe a little familial pull there. But listen to this, starting in verse 39, "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 brothers to the grace of the Lord." They didn't even do the missionary journey together. You know, it's interesting, the Bible never says who's right or who's wrong. The Bible never even says if they totally patched things up, although there are some suggestions that they at least were friends. But here's what probably happened, at least, as a result of that occurrence: They were friends from a distance.

Sometimes, you're going to have to learn to be a friend from a distance, to love from a distance. There are some people I really don't want to engage with. They're toxic, they're dark, they're evil, but the God of heaven and earth says I'm called to love them. So, I have to love them from a distance. Is there anybody in your world that you have to love from a distance? Love from a distance. Give that some thought, because you are called to love everybody, and the two errors are either that you think to love means to pretend nothing happened. Wrong. The other error is to believe that love means you're not going to engage them even if they didn't hurt you, and you never can do anything. Wrong. Love from a distance is the answer.

Let's pray. Father, we all have people that drive us nuts, but those are the people who you have called us to love. Help us to learn how to love them. If needed, help us to love them from a distance. I asked this in the strong name of the lover of our soul, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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