Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chapter 10 Mark and Onesimus: A Tale of Runaways

Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 10 of Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur.  We'd love to hear your thoughts as well!  Feel free to share in the comments section below the post.

"I am sending him to you...with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.  They will make known to you all things which are happening here.  Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him)...They have proved to be a comfort to me.  Colossians 4:8-11

Chapter 10 begins with the story of the Italian  cruise-liner that hit a reef off the coast of Italy and  began to sink.  We are told of the ships infamous captain who ran away from his ship and abandoned everyone on board.  This captain was clearly not a hero.

However, John MacArthur tells a story about two people who did "run away" and God was still able to use them and turn them into unlikely heroes.  Below are John MacArthur's thoughts on Mark and Onesismus, our runaways.

*  Heroes, by definition, are people who do not run away.  They stay with courage and conviction to stand and face difficulty, accepting hardship and embracing self-sacrifice.  They are willing, if necessary, to go down with the ship.  On the other hand, those who flee in the critical moment are viewed not as heroes, but as cowards and failures.  p. 190-191

*  That is what makes our final two heroes so unlikely-they were both runaways.  Yet, in spite of their weaknesses and failures, the Lord rescued them; transforming their testimonies from tragedy to triumph.  As He does with every sinner whom He saves, God pursued both Mark and Onesimus, and when He caught them, He turned their frailties and flaws into strength and success.  p.  191

*  When it mattered most, Mark had shown that he lacked personal courage, trust in God, and fortitude.  In the face of critical opportunity, he buckled and went absent without leave, abandoning his post and forsaking his mission.  p. 195

*  Mark would restore his reputation with the most influential and demanding apostle Paul.  p. 196

*  As a young man, he had faltered in the field and fled in shame.  But later in life he had been graciously restored to ministry usefulness-and even elevated to the sides of the two greatest apostolic preachers.  p. 198

*  As preeminently fulfilling as that reality was, God would grant Mark a far greater honor.  He would be inspired to write one of the four histories of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ-the gospel of Mark.  p. 198-199

*  How appropriately ironic that the man who had once abandoned his evangelistic responsibilities by deserting Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey would one day write a gospel that has since reached billions of people with the good news of salvation.  p. 200

*  Though they (Mark and Onesimus) came from two very different backgrounds, the two shared a common feature: in the past, they had both deserted their responsibility and run away.  Mark had been a runaway missionary; Onesimus a runaway slave.  p.  201

*  Now that Onesimus had become a believer in Christ and been reconciled to God, he had no choice but to go back to his master and be restored as his slave.  p.  202

*  A former runaway slave, he was restored and forgiven, eventually becoming a significant Christian pastor and a force in the early development of the New Testament canon.  p. 209

*  What joy there is for us as believers-to know that in spite of all our failings, we can never outrun God's grace or His plan to use us far beyond what we could ask or imagine.  p. 211

What are you running from?  What is God placing on your heart to do that you haven't taken that step to do for whatever reason?  I think of autism and how much it can and will change your life.  Are you allowing God to use you to reach others who need Him but haven't quite found Him?  I'll be honest with you, sometimes it's very hard for me to sit down and read our chapters and write the post.  (Hence the reason we've been posting every other week.)  During the time in which I am struggling to do the study, God grabs ahold of my heart.  He reminds me of the peace that He has given me in regards to my son having autism.  He shows me the ways that I need to be going with my son with therapies, medicine and diets.  He quietly nudges at my heart and tells me that there are parents of children with autism who don't know Him.  They can't find His peace, His comfort, His direction.  They don't know where to start and where to look.  So yes, it is easy to run the other way.  Never open my book to read. Never write the post.  However, I think about that one parent out there who is searching for something to help them, to help their child.  

What if you are that "something"?  What can you do to help reach all of these of children on the spectrum who are desperately seeking for answers.  I encourage you to take the time to pray, study His Word and find out what you are running away from that God has planned for your life.

I love this book.  I have learned so much about a lot of people from the Bible that I may have never even stopped to learn about.  If you have not read this chapter or this book yet, I highly encourage you to do so.  It is amazing how I can use these examples of unlikely heroes in my day to day life.  

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