The Gods Have Come Down to Us!

May 23rd, 2007 • Category: Encouragement
by Deb Doty

Today’s scripture: Acts 4:36-37 and Acts 14:8-18 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Deb Doty):

One of my favorite Bible people is Barnabas — the “son of encouragement.” But the Acts 14 passage is not one of the better-known ones concerning Barnabas and his protégé, Paul. That’s probably because it’s sorta weird — Paul and Barnabas end up being mistaken for Greek gods after a crippled man gets healed.

Picture Barnabas frantically trying to dissuade the crowd from offering sacrifices to him and Paul — the supposed ruler of the gods and his son, the messenger! Maybe he thinks, “What have I gotten myself into? All we did was encourage a man with God’s healing — and now look! Better talk fast before we’re up to our armpits in dead oxen!”

So, he and Paul try to re-direct the people to the real source of encouragement: God. They tell the crowd that it is the living God who gives them “rains from heaven and fruitful seasons,” filling them with food and their hearts with joy. And yet the people cry out, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” as they toss garlands. It takes quite a bit of talking from Barnabas and Paul to finally get them calmed down.

Now we can say, “How silly those people were, mistaking Barnabas and Paul for gods!” But were they completely silly? In their culture, the gods visited mortals often. They all knew lots of stories about such visits. So, they were totally prepared to welcome the divine. And in this preparedness, they put us to shame.

How often do we fail to recognize God’s encouragement when our stomachs are filled with food and our hearts with joy? How many times have we thought God is too far away and too busy to care about us? And yet, God has and does walk among us. As Paul repeatedly preached, God walked among us in Jesus. And God walks among us today through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Maybe the folks in Lystra weren’t so goofy after all.

Thought for the day: Let’s be prepared to see God today.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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