Sunday, April 26, 2009

More on Mark

I was dashing out the door yesterday when I wrote that post on Mark. Since then I've been pondering him a bit more--or more precisely the people around him.

There's Paul who doesn't want to be slowed down by Mark when he might be a liability.

There's Barnabas who takes Mark under his wing and gives Mark another opportunity to make an impact.

And there's the Christian community that thought enough of him to attribute a gospel to him.

Obviously, I sympathize more with the Barnabas-type person in this regard, but only in the abstract, I fear. I tend to be more of an "It would just be easier for me to do it myself" type of person rather than spend the time it would take to bring someone else up to speed. Especially someone who had blown it previously.

And I think there is a balance, here. I think Paul and Paul-types have some reasonable arguments to make against investing vast amounts of time in people who simply turn out to be duds.

But Mark, evidently, wasn't a dud. Barnabas (one of my favorite Bible characters) seems particularly apt at picking the good 'uns out of unlikely material, Paul being one of them himself.

I read a story recently (all right, it was in The Interpreters Bible (1952), if you must know) which I would like to be true:

In World War I a fine lad in the battalion with which I was serving failed through illness in face of the enemy and was court-martialed and punished. All that the colonel said to me was, "We must show him that we still trust him, or the lad will go to pieces." And not once did he allude to the unhappy incident, but not only treated the boy with the old friendliness, but a few weeks later in a particularly tight corner put him in command of the very company with whom he had been when he made his slip. In a few days' grim fighting the lad won honor after honor, and promotion for gallantry in the field. "What else could I do?" he said to me. "I failed him; and he trusted me."

I don't think Barnabas is just being nice. I don't think we're asked to be nice. It's something far more challenging than that. I haven't put a finger on what to call this kind of love, but some kind of love it must be.

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