Look Back | Look Down
Begin your time by reviewing the Scriptures and the important points of the sermon taught in The Row.
Welcome to the second week of our series, Making Your Mark. This series explores the lives of a handful of people mentioned at the end of Paul’s letter to the Jesus community in Colossae. This week, Pastor Jeff Manion explores the story of one of those people—John Mark. In Colossians 4, John Mark (often just called Mark) gets this short, yet important acknowledgement:
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him) (Colossians 4.10).
As Paul writes from the confines of house arrest in Rome, his words are truly amazing in regard to Mark. Paul and Mark have not always been on good terms. In fact, Paul’s ministry split because of a sharp disagreement over John Mark. Paul not only splits with Mark but he parts ways with an old friend and colleage, Barnabas.
It’s likely there were people who were central to your life ten years ago but who aren’t today. It’s also likely that there are people central to your life now that in ten years will not be. There can be are good or neutral reasons for relationships to drift or part ways but too often, relational stains and fractures cause long-term damage. Today’s discussion explores the challenge and beauty that happens when good people reconcile.
Spend five minutes reading Acts 13. 1-5, 13 and Acts 15.36-41 aloud. Discuss what you notice in these verses. More in-depth questions will follow.
Look In | Look Around
In The Circle, consider together what God is asking you to do and encourage each other.
Building the Band
Paul, Barnaba and Mark were highly spiritually mature people God was using to spread the Good News about Jesus to a non-Jewish world. Take a few minutes to discuss the background of these men based on what you heard in this week’s sermon.
- Who was John Mark? Where do you see him in the table of contents of your Bible?
- Who was Barnabas? How would you describe him (Acts 4.34-37)?
- Who was Paul (formerly Saul)? What was his background (Acts 9)?
- How did Paul and Barnabas connect (Acts 11.26-28)?
- How would you describe their relationship before “the rift”?
In Acts 15, we find the story of Paul and Barnabas parting ways. John Mark is at the center of a very “sharp” disagreement because he deserted them (Acts 13.13). As you read the story, what do you know and what don’t you know? In other words, what does Luke (the author of Acts) tell you and what does he choose to leave out of the story? What are some of the possible reasons (fun spectulation) for this disagreement that Pastor Manion mentioned in his sermon?
Luke’s economy of words, in describing the rift, teaches us a lesson about how we talk about others. Discuss these statements. Just because we know the details, doesn’t mean we need to share the details. Just because something is true, doesn’t mean it’s helpful.
The Band Breaks Up
Paul and Barnabas were good men. They were mature and seasoned in ministry. They had a close, long-term relationship with each other. However, these two good men disagreed strongly enough to part ways. Does this encourage or discourage you to know that people of this caliber can go through something like this with each other? Tell why.
When sharp disagreements occur, we should be slow to write people off. When we write someone off, we can close the door to any meaningful future relationships because of past disappointments. Have you been on either side of a “write off relationship”? Explain.
Why do we write people off? What goes into writing someone off? How does it happen subtly or overtly?
When we skip ahead in Paul’s story, we find Paul and John Mark in a relationally different place. Fourteen years after the rift began, Paul is giving John Mark a solid recommendation to the church in Colossae (Colossians 10.4). What happened over the past decade? We don’t know the details. Scripture doesn’t tell us how they reconciled. But it’s clear, two people who were not right with each other, are now right with each other. Some people positively change over time. Perhaps over time, Mark matured and Paul softened.
Another step toward reconciliation is to allow yourself to heal and to not keep the wounds of the past open. As we view our more difficult relationships, why is this so important to remember? Is there a difficult relationship in your life where you need to mature or soften? Tell why.
As you strive to restore a fractured relationship, seek ways to engage. What were some of the simple ways of engagement that Jeff mentioned that communicates, “we are no longer enemies”?
Paul wrote these words later in his life from prison, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4.32)
Paul connects our ability to forgive with God’s forgiveness of us. How does this practically work in real life? How can we tap into God’s grace and forgiveness in such a way that it affects how we relate to others?
Look Forward | Look Out
This coming week, spend time in The Chair with God and go engage the broken world around you.
In the Chair this week…
- Ask God to show you how you need to relationally mature or how you need to relationally soften.
- Are you avoiding someone? This could be a strong sign you have written them off. Pray for courage and ask God how and when you should initiate a conversation with this person.
SMALL GROUP LEADERS: Your opinion matters. Please complete the survey sent to you via email earlier this week. Your honest and complete answers will help us as we plan future Sermon Discussion Guides.