Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.
Recently I co-lead a group of students and pastors on a tour of the Footsteps of Paul in Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Patmos, Crete and Rome. It was an amazing time with much to learn and see. It’s powerful to walk in the places which the New Testament Scriptures were originated and to visit the cities in which the Apostle Paul planted churches and established the work of the Lord.
Simply put: The Bible comes alive.
But there is also a sad element to it as well. Everywhere you look there are statues, auditoriums, idols and places of worship established for Greek gods and goddesses. Zeus, Apollos, and Dionysus, to name a few. The City of Ephesus, for example, was dedicated to the worship of the goddess of fertility, Artemis.
Here is what I concluded: People crave something to worship.
We see this happening in Acts 14:8-15. This portion of Scripture is the next in a series of texts that spotlights Barnabas. Barnabas was a linchpin. He was a catalyst. I have been devoting a handful of these email devotionals to Barnabas – a guy that is peppered throughout the Book of Acts, and had a considerable impact on the trajectory of the church.
Take a moment to read Acts 14:8-15. Do you see what happens? Paul and Barnabas were involved in the healing of a man that was crippled since birth. Undoubtedly, the Lord is the Healer, but he used two willing vessels to extend that healing to the hurting. When the crowds witnessed the healing they shouted: “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” They gave Barnabas the name Zeus. Paul they called Hermes. Temple priests we’re poised to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. It was getting pretty crazy.
How did they get to this point?
Well…the answer is that people crave something to worship.
As you walk the Footsteps of Paul you’ll note something interesting. The worship of Greek gods and goddesses is obviously not as pervasive as it once was but now you see in their place other statues, religious icons, of folks such as Peter, Paul and Mary (sorry, I had to do it). One focal point of worship has been replaced with another. Visit Rome and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Bottom line: People crave something to worship.
Denise and I watched a powerful movie yesterday. It’s called “The Way” starring Martin Sheen. It’s about pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James. It was a deeply impacting film with a number of spiritual implications. It had us pondering and talking long after leaving the theater. Our common synopsis was that people are longing to worship…something…anything. Unfortunately, folks all too often miss the mark. They worship wrongly. They venerate people and things. They elevate human accomplishment and honor good deeds. They seek out experiential and relational connection and call it spiritual.
To combat this, Paul and Barnabas ran into the crowd and tore their garments, and in essence said: “Why are you doing this? Don’t worship us! Worship the Living God!”
What I observe about Paul and Barnabas is that they were good “Deflectors of Glory.” Rather than receiving honor (as wonderful as that would be) they deflected it to the one who made the heavens and the earth. That’s where our worship should be directed.
Question: Are you a good deflector of glory? Do you point people to Jesus?
People all over the world are craving something to worship. There is a God-shaped hole in everyone’s heart. Will you point people to the ONLY ONE that can properly fill that void?