Shout Outs: John Mark
In Colossians 4:7-18, the Apostle Paul closes his letter to the church at Colossae, with ten “Shout Outs” to friends who were with him on a mission across Asia Minor. A Shout Out is simply a public acknowledgment of good. Paul closed most of his letters with a list of shoutouts. These were one or two-sentence acknowledgments of their contribution to his ministry and life.
These shout-outs from Paul remind us that he was not alone. And neither should we try to be as we live life and participate in God’s mission. Christianity is about relationships. The church is simply a group of friends that are pursuing God’s mission together. Jesus had the twelve. Paul had around 35 that he mentions across all of his letters. The model is Friendship + Mission. There is no such thing as solo Christianity.
Paul’s fourth Shout-Out goes to Mark. Evan McGinty gave a great message on John Mark’s life at my church recently. Here’s what we know about Mark:
- Mark is on the 1st missionary journey with Paul, but for some reason, he abandons the team.
- On the second missionary journey, Barnabas and Paul disagree about Mark’s usefulness. Paul did not want him to go. Barnabas (possibly his cousin, and the encourager in chief) did. Their disagreement leads to a split. Two teams form. One with Mark and one without Mark.
- Years later, Paul, who we last see rejecting Mark, is writing his epistles and he shares some words of redemption. He calls Mark a “fellow worker” in Philemon. And he comes right out and says that he is “useful” in 2 Timothy.
So what can we say about Mark? He got back up. Though he abandoned the team once, he proved his usefulness once again. He didn’t let the regret, the awkwardness, or the fear of others’ opinions keep him from getting back on track with God and the mission. He grew through his own failure and regained the trust of his companions. He didn’t stay down.
Also, Paul didn’t keep him down unnecessarily. Though Paul expressed doubt about his character. His doubts weren’t permanent. He allowed Mark to return to the team.
You may have experienced both sides of this story.
- We’ve let our church or group of friends down and worried about what might happen if we try to go back.
- Or, we’ve had a friend or partner let us down and wanted to banish them from our circle of trust forever.
Neither is the wise path. Redemption is at the heart of the gospel and believing in redemption means we can get back up when we fall and we can trust and partner again with someone who has fallen.
God has a long history of using people who fell down. If we actually believe in the gospel and in the power of God to restore, we must be committed to helping others get back up and allowing others to get back up and be used in ministry again.
No one can say – I’ve never fallen down. No one can say – I can never get up. We will all need grace and mercy and redemption at some point in the journey. Let’s be grateful to God for its abundance. And let’s abundantly share it with others as needed.