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     Sometime 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.” 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. 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 believers to the grace of the Lord. Acts 15:36-40

Dear Lord Jesus, I start this day grateful for the stories of brokenness and messiness included in the Scriptures. Thankfully, they weren’t edited out, for these kinds of stories give me hope. The Bible is quite authentic and unabashedly honest, about the mess we are in and the mess that we are. Mere men wouldn’t have included these kinds of broken relationships between your people, without your hand and heart guiding them.

In particular, I’m thankful today for this story of two good friends, Paul and Barnabas, having “such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.” Lord, I’ve been in that situation, and right now I’m watching that story play out between two friends I deeply love and respect. It’s sticky and messy, and I hate being caught in the middle.

So I look to you right now for the resources of the gospel. I need wisdom from above; power in my weakness; and grace to love two stubborn, hurting people. My default mode is to not get involved—hoping the whole thing will just blow over or go away. But that’s not going to happen.

Jesus, the good news is you’ve come to destroy hostilities; to tear down walls of division; to make peace and to be our peace. You reconcile enemies to God and to one another, so I can trust you to be at work in this tense and complicated situation.

It took time plus grace for Paul and Barnabas to get back together. I don’t know what time plus grace will look like for my friends, but show me my role in the story you are writing. Help me listen from the heart and confront in love. Lead my praying and let me feel their hurt. Help me engage with both sides without taking sides. Help me stay present in the chaos without giving in to the pulls. As I serve my friends, show me more of my sin and more of the power of the gospel.

Jesus, no one is better at sticky-situation loving than you, so I abandon myself to you with my fears, my confusion, and my very real hope of your showing up. So very Amen I pray, with confidence, in your powerful and reconciling name.



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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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