A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY

Scripture Reading:  Acts 14:8-18

“Men, why are you doing these things?  We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from the vain things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”  (Acts 14:15)

After Paul and Barnabas arrived in Lystra, a man who had been lame since birth was miraculously healed (vs. 8-10).  When the Gentiles saw this miracle, they believed that Paul and Barnabas were gods (vs. 11-13).  The Gentiles there had a polytheistic world view unlike the Jews who were monotheistic in their beliefs.  These Gentiles in Lystra also were unfamiliar with the Word of God.  Because of these things, these Gentiles believed that Barnabas was Zeus and that Paul was Hermes.  To make matters worse, the priest of Zeus wanted to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas.  Obviously the missionaries objected strongly.

It is interesting to see how the missionaries witnessed to these people.  First, they made it clear that they were not gods; they were mere mortal men.  Then they explained that they were bringing good news to them, so that these pagan Gentiles would turn away from the vain religious practices and beliefs they had come to embrace.  Paul and Barnabas presented to them the living God who made heaven and earth (v. 15).  In spite of these words, the Gentiles continued to believe that Paul and Barnabas were gods and they kept offering sacrifices to them (v. 18).

Even today many fail to understand that preachers and missionaries are fallen people who desperately need Christ’s love and forgiveness.  Some view pastors and missionaries as elite Christians who are living a flawless Christian life.  Believe me, this is not the case!  We pastors and missionaries are broken, fallen people.  We must do as Paul and Barnabas did — help people see that we are no different from other believers.  We are weak and prone to sin just as all believers are.  We need God’s grace and we need to be careful of pride.  Sometimes we begin to believe all the nice things people say about us.  Don’t be mistaken about our identity!  We are needy sinners who have received God’s grace.  We are all in the same boat.

Lord Jesus, keep me broken before You.  I know You delight in a broken and contrite spirit.  Enable me to minister to others out of my brokenness and grace which You have bestowed upon me.  Empower me to live as Your beloved child this day.

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