Friday, July 22, 2005
by Pastor Paul Guay
In our Sunday worship we are in a continuing study of the Book of Acts and we recently came to Acts 14:8-20, where Paul and Barnabas deflected the misplaced ardor of the crowd at Lystra. Paul had just healed a man lame from birth. Witnessing this miracle the crowd assumed Zeus and Hermes must have come, once again, to earth to visit them. According to local folklore, the last time these gods had visited them they were refused food and shelter in all but one lowly home so their city had been destroyed with a flood. Well, this time they were not going to let that happen.
But Paul and Barnabas were having none of that. They had come to proclaim the true and living God and were horrified at the people's worship of them, they ordered them to stop. Like the Jerusalem crowds' "Hosannas" had turned in a few days to "Crucify Him!" the crowd in Lystra turned on Paul as quickly as they had hailed him.
Now enraged, they stoned him, dragging him outside the city, assuming him to be dead. Here is where the story gets interesting and instructive. Acts 14:20 tells us: But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe.
The Bible does not say whether Paul was truly dead and this is a resurrection, all it tells us is that the mob who stoned him was convinced he was dead and just unceremoniously dumped him outside the city. But there were some disciples who gathered and in their midst, their apostle "stood up" and did the unthinkable. He went back into the very city from which he had just been dragged.
What would you have done? I would have high-tailed it for Timbuktu and called it discretion, but that was not Paul's style. He believed in a living God, who had promised to provide everything he would need to carry out his mission on this earth, and this was no exception.
Christian, your God is Paul's God. In fact, your mission is Paul's mission, the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Won't you refuse to quit when the world turns on you? They may think they have succeeded in silencing you, leaving you for dead! Surprise them. In God's power get up, salute your Commander in Chief, and carry out His order, for God's glory.
- Pastor Paul Guay of Mabton Grace Brethren Church.