>Com/passion for a young man


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A character study demonstrating the balance needed between passion and compassion…
Paul and Barnabas, the mighty missionary team, called, qualified, and sent by the Holy Ghost to evangelize the coasts of the Mediterranean, were at a crossroads.  A decision had to be made.  It was not a theological debate or an argument over styles of preaching or where to travel next.  At the middle of this crossroads was a young man named John Mark.  He had ended his missionary trip before finishing during Paul’s first missionary journey, but was ready to hit the trail again as Paul and Barnabas prepared to go again.  Paul would have none of it; Mark had made his decision and proved himself unworthy to endure the hardships of missionary life.  Barnabas, however, wanted the younger man to come along, insisting he had value and could be an asset.  And concerning these two views, there would be no compromise; Paul and Barnabas would have to go their separate ways; Paul with Silas one direction, and Barnabas with the previously ill-prepared Mark in another direction.
First, I believe Paul and Barnabas had shared a common work, but two different passions and missions.  Paul was called to be the apostle to the Gentiles, and held a laser focus on reaching the lost cities and nations of the Gentiles without bending.  But remember, there may not have been a Paul without Barnabas.  I don’t think Paul was the main speaker on the first missionary journey because Barnabas was ineloquent or afraid to speak up.  I believe it is because one has a hard time developing people to spread their wings with confidence if one hogs the stage and does not trust those they are developing to try.  Judging by the accomplishments Mark went on to achieve, becoming Peter’s assistant and writing one of the four gospels, he does not seem to have been front-man material.  It seems to me that Barnabas was probably the dominant preacher of the new missionary team.  But Barnabas’ passion was arguably to invest in people and give them a chance to soar with their own passions in life and ministry.
Having considered the differing passions of Paul and Barnabas, I propose that each of them showed compassion toward Mark in unique ways.  Compassion can be a two edged sword.  Immediate compassion may meet a need in the moment.  But ultimate compassion meets the needs of a lifetime beyond the present need.  Paul was compassionate toward Mark in that his immediate rejection was a powerful demonstration of the resolute discipline needed to do missionary work.  None of us grasps the hard and important concepts of life without some rejection, trial, and criticism.  Paul’s rejection served as a catalyst, a turning point, without which I cannot see Mark going forward to become the man he ultimately became.  However, along with the rude awakening that Paul provided, Mark also needed some understanding, encouragement, and direction.  Barnabas was ready and willing to fulfill his God-given passion for developing ministers and gave Mark insight, perspective, and further experience necessary to become the man that Paul would ultimately deem “profitable for the ministry.”
While Paul has the distinction of planting numerous churches and writing 13 of the New Testament books, Barnabas has an unblemished track record of developing champions for Christ, in that each of the men the scripture records as being Barnabas’ protégé’s reached their full potential.  Mark went on to assist the Apostle Peter and write the Gospel of Mark, contributing the earliest and simplest of the gospel accounts.  Mark never was the shining star, but he performed his passion consistently and left great gifts for us through the ages through his example and his work.
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