Dealing With Controversy and Drama

 Have you ever found yourself scared of the outcome of a controversial situation, and you find yourself surrounded by drama? Making matters worse, sometimes it might not even be your drama, but you find yourself in the situation nonetheless. If this applies to you, keep reading. This may help! 

Everyone faces controversy in life at one time or another, and what we may find frightening changes. We’re afraid of failure, and also success, or doing or saying the wrong things and the wrong times, and that’s just naming a few nightmarish goblins of adulthood! Fighting fear isn’t a battle that goes away as we get older. Fear can increase if it’s allowed. In so many ways, controversy is brought about by fear, and when a controversy begins, drama begins too. We often fear how we will be portrayed in the drama that surrounds us or when the narrative of the controversy is simply false and we find ourselves helpless to defend ourselves. It can be worse than a 1980’s horror flick.    

It’s easy to see Paul as a hero of the New Testament. Under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, the Apostle Paul wrote most of the New Testament. But Paul was one of the most controversial characters of his time. Paul was constantly surrounded by drama, and a lot of Paul’s drama is deadly drama! But for many of us a good example of Paul’s personal drama is to consider Paul losing his partner in ministry over high school drama!

Acts 15 explains that Paul and Barnabas, who were being celebrated by their peers in ministry due their unbelievable success during their last mission trip, come to a disagreement over John Mark. John Mark begins the first mission trip with Paul and Barnabas, but Paul refused John Mark’s request to return on the second trip. Why? Because John Mark left the first mission and went home half way through the trip. Luke, writer of the Book of Acts, does not address specifically why John Mark left the first mission trip, but Luke doesn’t hesitate to include what takes place when John Mark wants to return for the second.

 Barnabas brings the shocking would-be game changer, stating that if John Mark’s not allowed on the mission trip, Barnabas isn’t going either. Talk about some highs school drama! Paul says stands his ground and in so many words tells them both to hit the road! The bottom line is that Paul didn’t trust John Mark because John Mark bailed on the mission the first time, and the precedent was set that he’s likely to do it again.

Imagine for a second being Paul, in that just a few hours earlier the whole church is supporting you, and even given you a bit of a pep rally. Moments later, you lose your best friend because of somebody that you can’t trust! Paul was human, and I’m sure he was mad, angry, and hurt that his closest friend at the time couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Though it’s not recorded, I bet Paul either said or was thinking something like this, “out of all those devils we’ve casted out, how come Barnabas can’t see something so obvious.” What comes next must have made matters even worse!

Paul and Silas end up in prison! Have you ever wondered what may have been echoing in Paul’s mind? Remember, Paul’s human, just like us, and for many of us, if we were in Paul’s shoes we may have thought something like this:

This wouldn’t have happened if I had just let the snot-nose-brat go. At least I’d have Barnabas here. I probably messed up. This is probably my entire fault! I should have just ignored the issue and it would have gone away. After being a pain in the neck, that John Mark is going to get me killed after all!

While it may be argued that Paul mourned over friendships and bad choices, we really don’t know if Paul spent a lot of time thinking about the pre-mission drama. Paul did has he felt led of God to do and His confidence to move forward regardless came from knowing who is in control of the past, present, and future;  God. It is not recorded if Paul spent much time languishing over Barnabas declining the terms of the second mission, and by terms I mean, Paul’s rejection of John Mark’s mission application.

We do know that late at night while Paul and Silas were in prison, Paul started praising God and singing praises. The earth moves, and the chains fall from their wrists and feet. Then it turns into revival! The prison guard accepts Christ and the prison guards’ entire house hears the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Paul was human, and controversy was a part of his life but he did not allow it to define him. A Christian should accept now that not everyone, even other Christians are going to agree with you all the time; especially when you identify sin and call it exactly what it is. Sin and sinful behaviors that are swept under the carpet don’t disappear; they grow and become bigger problems later. Controversy is a part of ones’ walk with Christ. (Luke 10:16) It’s what we do with controversy that matter. So what did Paul do?

  1. Paul stood his ground.
  2. Paul was not afraid of the consequences a losing Barnabas because he understood that he answered to God for the welfare and safety for those who accompanied him and those to which he ministered. 
  3. Paul continued his mission and accepted a change of plan.
  4. Paul was willing to suffer in order for God to manifest his presence and to reach the lost.

So leave the drama on the stage! There’s no reason to worry about things you can’t control. When God gives you an assignment, trust in the Lord, and at first it may seem as if He’s taking you to a dark and terrible place. But in the end, God will free you from chains that are restricting you from your destiny. If you want a Paul and Silas experience, you have to be willing to leave Barnabas and Joh Mark. Be willing to stand your ground, and watch God remove chains fall from you that you never knew existed.