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.
When I first read this passage, I found it hard to believe. Paul and Barnabas had been such close friends and companions in Christ, traveling, teaching, and spreading the gospel together for the longest time. After everything they had been through, I thought they would have better learned the art of compromise and have more flexibility with regards to each others' wishes. Not so in this case! Mark had definitely rubbed Paul the wrong way a while back and he could not understand why Barnabas wanted anything to do with him. As they could not see eye-to-eye on this issue, the only option left to them was to part ways.
Did Paul and Barnabas remain friends in spite of this quarrel? The scripture doesn't tell us here, but I believe they did. After all, haven't we experienced disagreements with friends, with family, with spouses that blew up, blew over, and didn't ultimately taint our relationships? Even in the best of marriages, friendships, or family relations (my mother and I do not discuss politics and everyone is happy), no one is ever going to agree on everything one-hundred percent of the time. It's impossible!
As Christians, we are called to love one another as Christ loved us. We can agree to disagree, still respecting and caring for the person with whom we've had a temporary falling out. We forgive and we move on. Whether that calls for drastic measures as in the case of Paul and Barnabas, and let us hope not, or a simple, brief time-out from the person involved, we can continue to remain friends in the Lord.
"And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them.
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end.
Though it's hard to let you go,
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long to live as friends. ~ Michael W. Smith
Psalms 56, 57, (58) or 64, 65
2 Samuel 2:1-11
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