Skip to main content

The Difference Maker

Hatfields & McCoys DVD
Hatfields & McCoys DVD
I recently watched the History Channel's mini-series Hatfields and McCoys. Anyone who is aware of Civil War era American history knows of this generational feud between these two infamous families. I recommend watching the series. Kevin Reynolds and Kevin Costner reunite to pull off an authentic, heart-tugging story of two men who preferred the taste of revenge to reconciliation.

The writers tell the story of "Devil Anse" Hatfield's desertion from the Confederate Army before the war is over. Randall McCoy, with whom Hatfield served, never forgave him for deserting. Add in a child of an unwed McCoy fathered by a Hatfield, a couple of revenge killings, and rivalry over timber lands, and you have the beginnings of a feud that lasted generations.

What caught my attention in the story was that Randall McCoy never let the Hatfield desertion go. He held on to it at every turn, and his hatred for Hatfield leaving him on the field of battle fueled every fire started between the two families. Revenge motivated by hatred consumed him from the time he came home until he died, and it ate up his heart and his family.

This past Sunday I talked about a young man who deserted a battle for the hearts and souls of people, and when the time came to go back onto the spiritual battlefield, the young man's mentor refused his help and labeled him a "deserter." (Acts 15:36-41) That young man was John, called Mark, and the Apostle Paul. Barnabas and Paul separated over John Mark, and we never read about them being together after that incident.

The rift between the young John Mark and the elder Paul could have infected the Jesus Movement like the hatred between McCoy and Hatfield spilled over into their families. But the biblical story is different in one significant way: Paul and John Mark did not hold a grudge or seek revenge for the hurt, but they experienced reconciliation. The difference maker was the miracle of grace that resulted in reconciled lives.

Paul wrote to his friends in Corinth about this hallmark of Christian faith in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. I'm sure Paul did not write those words in reference to his labeling of John Mark, but he clearly applied the truth to his relationship with the young man. We know this because at the end of his life, Paul wrote to Timothy to bring John Mark with him "because he is helpful to me in my ministry." (2 Timothy 4:11

Somewhere along the path of life, Paul and John Mark reconciled, and Paul's label of the young man went from "deserter" to "helpful." Only biblical reconciliation based on the person and work of Jesus can pull that off.

So, who are you? Randall McCoy or Paul, the Apostle when it comes to those who have hurt or deserted you? The answer to that question will determine the attitude of those around you for generations.

If you want to hear the message from Legacy Church, you can hear it here.

If you want to read the chapter from Character: The Pulse of a Disciple's Heart, you can get a copy here.