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     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.” 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 LordActs 15:36-40

Dear Lord Jesus, I’m so thankful that stories of relational messiness weren’t edited out from the Bible, for they give us hope. They show us that we all need grace to love well.

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 story before, and right now I’m watching the same dynamic play out among people I love—in a marriage, in a church, and between a couple of good friends. Stressed relationships abound, and they make us long for the Day of no more sin and brokenness.

It’s sticky and messy, and I hate being caught in the middle. 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 be our peace. You reconcile enemies to God and to one another; so I can trust you to be at work in these tense and complicated situations.

It took time plus grace for Paul and Barnabas to get back together. I don’t know what time plus grace will look in these situations, but show me my role in the stories you’re 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 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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