Skip to main content

These aren’t the gods you’re looking for: Acts 14

There are times to beat around the bush, give fluffy intros, or tell a quick illustrative humor. Then there are times to come straight to the point.

Today is a straight to the point day. Acts 14 (link) is our next passage going through the whole Bible. We pick up Paul and Barnabas on their missionary endeavors, and find them in Lystra. Through Paul, God heals a man there who had been lame since birth. The witnesses determine that Paul and Barnabas must be “the gods” come down in human form to visit humanity.

Paul and Barnabas then have to put a stop to the people’s attempt to worship the two of them as gods. They are aghast that the people would ascribe to them any of the worship and honor due to God alone.

Without further ado, here are the critical points for us:

1. Worship belongs to God alone. There is no one, nor any being, that deserves any fragment of the worship that God receives.

2. If you are in leadership, there is a consistent pull for people to ascribe to you a respect that goes too far. And it’s incredibly easy to allow it. AND YOU MUST NOT DO SO. While making disciples includes helping people grow in their discernment, as a leader it is your responsibility to not walk into this trap. It’s not set by people, but it is real.

3. If you are someone who considers yourself more a follower than a leader, that is not always a bad thing. However, it is necessary that you learn to not take the worship and honor due God and give it to someone else.

Why does it matter so much?

First of all, it matters because as God’s people we should be concerned about truth. Anything that attempts to deprive God violates the truth. That, on its own, should be adequate.

Second, though, it matters because of human nature. People are born with a sin nature: we are born with a habit of sin, whether we like to admit that or not. Now, how that sinful nature shakes out is a matter of debate and how God counts guilt is also a place of discussion, but the truth remains that people, especially full-grown adult people, have a tendency to do the wrong thing.

That means that when one person acquires more and more power, their capacity to do wrong increases. If you take the power, you increase your temptations. And then bad things happen. Leadership includes putting forth the effort to keep a check on your own weaknesses, your own temptations so as not to put yourself in the midst of a crisis.

Unfortunately, too often we have failed in this regard. It behooves us to push back against that in ourselves. Too push back away from amassing worship that is misguided. It often starts with the best of intentions, but those good intentions then turn into dangerous situations.

Neither can we try and take those mistaken views and use them even for a temporary advantage. Paul and Barnabas could have been sly here and said “Yes, we’re Hermes and Zeus, and we want you to know that Jesus is the way!” Yet we cannot accomplish good ends with wicked means.

In all, we must be very cautious about how we handle leadership within the Christian world. I would argue that we must also be so in the world-at-large. Deifying leaders serves no valid purpose—even doing so just a little.

Today’s Nerd Note: I wonder what we can infer about Paul and Barnabas from the crowds assignment of “Hermes” to Paul and “Zeus” to Barnabas. Certainly we see Luke recount that Paul was doing the talking, and so he was assumed to be the messenger.

However, is there more? Perhaps a bit about relative ages, that Barnabas seemed the older, wiser one?

We cannot go too far, as it is inferring from a brief mention. Yet it does allow the mind to wander.


Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Curiosity and the Faithlife Study Bible

Good morning! Today I want to take a look at the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. Rather than spend the whole post on this particular Study Bible, I’m going to hit a couple of highlights and then draw you through a few questions that I think this format helps with.

First, the basics of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (NIVFSB, please): the translation is the 2011 New International Version from Biblica. I’m not the biggest fan of that translation, but that’s for another day. It is a translation rather than a paraphrase, which is important for studying the Bible. Next, the NIVFSB is printed in color. Why does that matter? This version developed with Logos Bible Software’s technology and much of the “study” matter is transitioning from screen to typeface. The graphics, maps, timelines, and more work best with color. Finally, you’ve got the typical “below-the-line” running notes on the text. Most of these are explanations of context or highlights of parallels, drawing out the facts that we miss by …

Foolishness: 1 Corinthians 1

In Summary: 1 Corinthians opens with the standard greeting of a letter from the Apostle Paul. He tells who he is with (Sosthenes) and who he is writing to. In this case, that is the “church of God that is in Corinth.” He further specifies that this church is made up of those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints. 
He then expresses the blessing/greeting of “grace and peace” from God. From there, Paul reflects on his initial involvement with the Corinthian people and the beginning of the church. After that, though, there are problems to deal with and Paul is not hesitant to address them. He begins by addressing the division within the church. Apparently, the church had split into factions, some of which were drawn to various personalities who had led the church in times past. There is no firm evidence, or even a suggestion, that Paul, Cephas, Apollos, or anyone else had asked for a faction in their name. Further, the “I follow Christ” faction may not have been any le…