How do you respond to a rejection of your offer of service? What determines the offer has been rejected or you need another attempt at getting it accepted? The service could be delivering the gospel, training a subordinate business associate that presents himself or herself as untrainable, parental training of a child that has proved to be non malleable, or other examples. As these examples indicate, responding to rejection requires first a decision, maybe often a difficult decision, that one’s effort at performing the service has been rejected. The bible provides clear instruction on how to respond, having determined that rejection has occurred. It also provides guidance on what needs to be done before declaring a rejection. However, a decision to declare rejection will likely always be difficult, because accepting rejection is equivalent to accepting failure of an effort. We discuss examples of declaring and accepting rejection by the apostle Paul, Christ’s teaching on responding to rejection, and God’s guidance through Prophet Ezekiel on what one needs to do before declaring a rejection.
The successful alliance of Paul and Barnabas broke up unexpectedly over a disagreement regarding John Mark rejoining the alliance. Paul held on to a position that John Mark could not be relied upon as a team member because he deserted the team in an earlier mission. In contrast, Barnabas was adamant on giving John Mark a second chance. They broke up over the “sharp disagreement” and continued with their mission as two separate teams [Acts 15:39–41].
However, their ministry (then two separate ministries) was not diminished: Paul teamed with Silas, Timothy, and others to spread the gospel through Macedonia and Greece. Barnabas successfully mentored Mark, who went on to write the second gospel. Later events showed they remained in good terms and showed interest in each other’s ministry as evidenced by Paul inviting Mark later to join his ministry. Also, Paul’s later interactions with Oneismus and Philemon indicate increased willingness to grant a “second chance” as he judged appropriate. Over all, we learn from Paul-Barnabas breakup that an alliance for the gospel or other human endeavor could experience problems including breakup but such problems need not result in diminished focus on the bigger picture.
Paul and Barnabas teamed up to spread the gospel, shortly after Saul’s conversion to Christ. From their base church in Antioch, which they helped develop, they collaborated on the First Missionary Journey, through which they won numerous converts and established several churches in Europe and Asia and laid the foundation for growth of Christianity worldwide. However, their alliance ended abruptly as they tried to embark on a second missionary journey. In this bible study, we try to learn from their successful alliance and its abrupt termination.