Tag Archives: missions

The Nature of Crowds (From Acts 14)

In Acts 14 there is a remarkable story that took place in Lystra during Paul and Barnabas’s first missionary trip.

In the name of Jesus, Paul healed a paralyzed man, and immediately the people of the city began to worship both he and Barnabas, believing them to be the Greek gods Hermes and Zeus.  Paul and Barnabas loudly rebuked them for their false worship and mourned over them.

Then something crazy happens. I will post two consecutive verses here to highlight what happened:

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18 Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. 19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

Do you see that? In one verse the people are trying to offer sacrifices to them as gods, and in the very next verse the crowds are stoning them nearly to death.

This was the same treatment they gave Jesus. On Palm Sunday he rode a donkey into Jerusalem and they believed he would be their king. They shouted Hosannas to him, and dropped their robes in front of his donkey. Within a week the crowds were chanting “Crucify” and stripping his robes off him.

Christians today often find it very hard when they read a news story about the 10 Commandments being removed from a public place, or when someone says “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas.”

I think we should expect this kind of thing, and expect it to be much much worse. Paul and Barnabas could have developed an expectation of favoritism and expected everyone to always approve of them, but they didn’t. Christians must learn to expect opposition, not be surprised by it, and not be deterred by it. If Jesus could be crucified and Paul and Barnabas stoned nearly to death, then certainly we can toughen up and deal with it when our culture rises against us.

Instead of getting upset by rejection, we should learn from scripture and keep moving, keep forgiving, and keep advancing God’s kingdom. If some do not like God’s kingdom, then forgive them and go find someone who will receive it.

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Acts 11:19-30

So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus.  And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.  The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch.  Continue reading What Healthy Churches Do