One of the things that many of us misunderstand at times about the issue of unity is that we equate unity with always agreeing with each other and reaching a consensus. Paul and Barnabas disagree here in a way which is so “sharp” that they (temporarily) sever ties with each other and go their separate ways. What is interesting here is that, according to Luke, our narrator, the good news of Jesus Christ continued to be spread. Both Paul and Barnabas had good intentions of telling people about Jesus, disagreeing about how they should progress with their projects. How often does this happen to us? We can be so worried about not agreeing with each other or supporting one another that we don’t do anything.
I am not suggesting hot-headed ministry. Nor am I suggesting that we all go off in our own directions, silos as it were, doing whatever we think is best. What I am suggesting is that, whatever our ideas of ministry might be, whether we have a clever strategy or not, the love of God cannot and will not be stopped. Ever since the beginning of the Church, Christians have been doing their best (not deliberately) to make it difficult for the message of God to come across. We make mistakes. We hurt one another. We damage those who disagree with us. And yet the love of God continues to spread. And so I’m left to wonder, would it make more sense for us to worry less about how we do things and make a commitment instead to enjoy the freedom and license to bless and serve people that we have been charged with?