Job 32-33 Acts 14
“Even with these words, they were barely able to keep the crowd from offering sacrifices to them. Then some evil people came from Antioch and Iconium and persuaded the people to turn against Paul. So they threw stones at him and dragged him out of town, thinking they had killed him.” (Acts 14:18-19 NCV)
He’d been crippled since birth. He listened intently as Paul preached, and Paul realized that he had faith the God could heal him. So Paul called on him to stand up. When the man did, pandemonium broke out. The crowd started cheering in their own language. The priest came from the nearby temple of Zeus. The people had decided that Barnabas was Zeus and Paul was Hermes since Paul was the speaker. They wanted to offer sacrifices to Barnabas and Paul as members of the pantheon of gods. Since Paul and Barnabas didn’t understand the language, it took them awhile before they realized that the people were trying to offer them sacrifices. Then, Paul and Barnabas worked hard to tell them the truth and prevent the Lystrians from seeing them as gods. It wasn’t easy, but then, some “evil people” came by from Antioch and I conium came by and turned the people against Paul. They stoned Paul, dragged him out of the city, and left him on the trash heap thinking he was dead.
Crowds are fickle. The same crowd that cheered Jesus as Messiah turned around in less than a week, calling for His crucifixion. Paul and Barnabas could have won the crowd over permanently by accepting the sacrifices offered to them, but they proclaimed the truth about Jesus, and it didn’t take much for outsiders to sway the crowd against them. It’s easy to be hypnotized by the allure of popular opinion. Adoring crowds are quite an ego boost, or so I’ve heard. As followers of Christ, though, our goal isn’t the adulation of the masses, our goal is to hear God say the words “well done my good and faithful servant.” If we’re going to be faithful, that means we must speak and live the truth. That can be dangerous in a world where everyone’s beliefs are given equal weight, unless your beliefs don’t allow for everyone’s beliefs to be given equal weight. Not everyone will go to heaven. That’s a spiritual truth that’s unpopular to many in these days. Speak that truth and you may be shouted down. It may be hard to believe but noting that God created male and female and no other genders is unpopular in a world that celebrates gender fluidity and diversity. (Genesis 1:27) In the marriage debate, you can choose the popular opinion of society, or you can agree with Jesus that marriage is designed by God to be between one man and one woman, (Matthew 19:4-5) and that couples who married should stay together (Matthew 19:8-9). Teaching from God is old-fashioned and out of touch with the modern world. It’s easy to be swayed by our desires to stay current with popular opinion. Staying true to God’s word is a hard way to live, but it’s the only way.
Lord, in a world that seeks to upgrade and modernize everything, including Your teaching, let me know and understand Your word and Your ways. Let me stay true to Your way even when it’s unpopular.