When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
It was impressive. Paul looked directly at a man crippled from birth and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” The man who had never taken a step “jumped up and began to walk.” When the people saw this they shouted, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Pretty heady stuff for Paul and Barnabas.
When I read this passage, I think of the Christian celebrity market. From conferences to cruises; from book signings to blockbuster seminars; from the pulpit to podcasts; from twitter to YouTube; from church attendance to church budgets . . . Christian leaders, in their desire to minister, can get some unhealthy attention. But listen to the apostles’ response when the people were getting ready to offer sacrifices to them:
Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. (Acts 14:15).
There is no biblical market for Christian celebrities. Don’t place leaders on pedestals. The higher you place them, the farther they will eventually fall. Each one is human . . . disgustingly so. Together let’s work to turn people from worthless things to the living God. Together let’s direct people to the One “who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.” There is only One name above every name. There is only One to whom we all bow.
Father, keep us from worshiping people. Keep us from a celebrity mindset. Help us never desire a pedestal, and help us never place others there. Our allegiance is to You and You only. Make that more than a statement. Make that the reality of our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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