But the real disagreement started when Mark arrived from Jerusalem. Barnabas wanted to take him with us, at least to Cyprus.
"Cyprus is only the beginning of our mission," I argued. "We need helpers who will stay with us beyond Galatia and on into the west. Mark will no doubt leave us again as soon as we leave for the mainland. Titus would be a much better helper on our journey. He will stick with us no matter how hard the journey or persecution."
"I don't think it wise to have a Gentile as one of our assistants," Barnabas responded. "With Titus in our company we will immediately face obstacles with the synagogues. Mark is a law observant Jew and would put no stumblingblock to our ministry. He has great potential! And now that Jerusalem has officially opened the door to the Gentiles he will not shrink from ministry to them."
This comment angered me. "The gospel does not need cowards. The work to which God has called us will involve great opposition. What will Mark do when they come after us with stones? Will he run away, like he did the night they arrested Jesus?
"And this letter," I continued, "you know that it only threatens to divide the sacrificed body of Christ. It is so hypocritical when none of the apostles keeps the purity laws well enough to trouble about these sorts of things.
"I fear that Mark is simply a pawn of Jerusalem, sent to hold the gospel back. I will not take him with me," I said.
"If Mark is a pawn then I am a pawn, Saul," Barnabas fired back. "If you will not take Mark, then I will not be going with you either. You are not wise in your zeal. You bring all those around you into unnecessary danger. You are not the only one who would die for his faith. But there is no honor in a death before its time."
It became quite clear to me that Barnabas would be just as much a hindrance to the mission to which God called me as Mark would. Barnabas would not disregard the judgment of the pillars, and I didn't consider it of God. I needed co-workers who had no reservations about God's full acceptance of the Gentiles, clean or unclean.
We agreed to go our separate ways in peace. Barnabas and Mark would return to Cyprus. Meanwhile I would have to find a new coworker and assistant.