family

John Mark

It’s definitely safe to say that Acts is now one of my favorite books in Scripture. There are so many characters at play and it is really so exciting, yet it makes me mad at the same time, because I desire to see the work of the Spirit more frequently in the [Western] church and believers to be used by God in the magnificent ways that He used the apostles. But that is another post altogether. Subsequently, there is one character that I want to point out that appears a couple times in Acts, then resurfaces a few more times in Paul’s epistles. His name is John Mark.

When we first meet John Mark, we learn of his mother, a Christian woman who lodged Peter after he escaped prison. Afterward, he goes off with Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey, which is when the story gets interesting. We learn about two chapters later that John Mark decided to go back home, for reasons unknown. I have heard many say that it was because he found the work too hard and or it was more involved than he realized, but there is also the possibility that he went back home to care for his mother, whichever reason it was, we don’t know for sure. Nevertheless, his departure caused a split between Paul and Barnabas (his cousin) later on; Barnabas wanted to welcome him back and bring him along on the missionary journey, but Paul wasn’t having it, thus Barnabas and his cousin went in one direction and Paul another.

So, what’s the point.

After considering the reactions of Paul and Barnabas, I can understand why each felt the way they did and can’t say either of them was wrong for their choice. As we deal with people in living out our purpose, we must not only recognize that people don’t always think like us or agree with us,  and like Barnabas our perspectives can be influenced as well by family. Again, this doesn’t mean that we are right or wrong, however, this story does compel us to develop not only wisdom and discernment, but compassion and patience as well when dealing with people, because even though John Mark’s reason for leaving them was deemed inexcusable, it teaches us that sometimes people just aren’t ready for what we hope or don’t see themselves as we see them. For, John didn’t leave the faith, as some assume, he left his assignment. Unfortunately, people will walk away for one reason or another, and we have the choice to trust them should they return or leave them, which is when discerning the voice of God comes into play.

Ultimately, we see that both Paul and Barnabas did what they thought was right, and God honored them both, even though they were separated for a time; whatever work Barnabas did with John paid off because not only did he end up in prison alongside Paul some years later, but Paul had also requested his presence in ministry, validating his value in the work of the Lord.

It’s not clear in Scripture when exactly Paul and Barnabas and John Mark all reunited, but the Spirit was obviously present in the development of their relationship. The point I desire to make in all of this is that God is one of reconciliation and restoration, in His timing and His way, and he does allow the people we work with to come in and out of our lives for seasons, but that doesn’t mean we stop praying for them or condemn their choices because of  a difference of opinion. Furthermore, some individuals do require extra grace and extra encouragement as they are figuring their way out and trying to honor the Lord and do what He has purposed for them to do, and if God has called us to extend that grace, then we must, because we never know what blessings we may forfeit if we turn someone away who disappointed us. How many times have we failed or disappointed God and He still keeps His arms open? But again, our journey may require us to not allow someone in our close space to protect us and protect them, like Paul, but if the Lord brings you back together, we must trust Him.

To be honest, I don’t know if this made sense. A lot was going through my mind when the Lord first illuminated John Mark’s story to me, and I wanted to get it all out before I forgot. I may come back and add to this blog so come back here in a week to check lol. Nonetheless, I think this disciple’s story reflects so many of us and those we know who aren’t ready to walk in their calling, especially if it connected with our own, but God’s grace is sufficient, so we must be mindful and not discourage those who decide to take time to do work through their things, because when God burden’s their heart enough and that fire is finally lit inside of them, the demons in Hell will tremble.

People are interesting and relationships are complex when you mix personalities and personal experiences together, and that’s what makes this race we run so beautiful, because each variation of our colors and beauty creates a breathtaking reflection of the glory of God. So, with wisdom and discernment, compassion and patience, be yourself for a purpose.

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Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, & Mary – Imperfect on Purpose

When you look back in Biblical times, it was a very patriarchal society. Women had very few rights and or privileges; they were seen and not heard. Even still, being Christmas, looking at the life of Christ, he gave purpose and value to women – woman at the well, Mary Magdalene, and so many others. Nonetheless, one of the things I found most interesting and intriguing is found in the very genealogy of Jesus.

Looking through Scripture, in nearly all of the genealogies listed in both the old and new testament, there are rarely women listed. It’s mostly “the son of…” However, in the very lineage of Christ given in the first chapter of Matthew, there are five women listed…Yes. Five. What’s even crazier is that these women, or families they represent, are everything but perfect. They got some serious issues.

First on the list is Tamar (Matt 1:3), found in Genesis 38. The story of Tamar is a story of tamarincest. Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah – Jesus was to come from the tribe of Judah. To sum it up, Judah had three sons and before it was over, none of them produced any offspring for the tribe to continue. Thus, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and slept with Judah and got pregnant, inadvertently preserving the line of Judah.

Second on the list is Rahab (Matt 1:5) , found in Joshua 2. This is a story of a prostitute, not even a Jew, who protected the spies of Israel as they were preparing to demolish her city, Jericho. As a result of her sacrifice, she and her family were protected. rahabThird on the list is Ruth (Matt 1:5) who happens to have a whole book in the Bible dedicated to her, Ruth. Ruth is the story of family and companionship and selflessness. Ruth as well, was not a Jew. She was from Moab, a pagan society. Moabites were some ruthwicked polytheistic people, the total opposite of the Jewish culture. Nonetheless, Ruth set on a journey as a widow, alongside her mother-in-law, Naomi, a Jew, to go back to the land of her people, the Israelites. Long story short, with the guidance of her Naomi, she found herself a husband, the kinsman redeemer, and found a spot in the lineage of Christ.

Fourth on the list is Bathsheba (Matt1:6), found in 2 Samuel 11. Although she is presented as “Uriah’s wife,” her story is far from unknown. Her story is one of betrayal, adultery, sorrow and bathsheba1murder. While married she committed adultery with the very King David and got pregnant. As a result, David had her husband killed, and like clock work God took the life of their son.

Last on the list is Mary, the very mother of Jesus – a young girl minding her business, when an angel of the Lord came and interrupted her life, so much in so she was pregnant before she got married. Back then, that was a social no no.mary-and-gabriel

The point in sharing these stories is one, to see the significance and value of a woman. On the other side, I want to give a brief insight in to how messed up Jesus’ family was. Still, God chose the least of these, to bring forth His precious son. So when people think Jesus came from a generations of water walkers, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I love Jesus so much more because of this. He had issues in his family just like everyone else; it identified him, but it didn’t define him. Although Jesus came from all of a dysfunctional family, he didn’t let that take his focus off of his mission here on earth. He was born to die. So let that be an encouragement to you as it is to me, that whatever background or family we come from, it may identify who we are, but it doesn’t have to define who we are. We can rise above and become all that God would want us to be.

As we celebrate this season, remember Christ. He was real, so real he chose imperfect people, on purpose, to bring His only begotten into the world. God can choose and use anyone he wants. He chose me; He chose you. He can take all your mess and create a miracle that will change history, as he did in the lives of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.