OUR POWER OR GOD'S? // MAY 23, 2023
When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” ... [They] brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because [they] wanted to offer sacrifices to them. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes ...
Acts 14:11, 13-14a
The scene got outta hand real quick! The display of power in healing the lame man riled up the crowd, who started shouting and calling Paul and Barnabus gods. The local priest brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates and were revving up to offer sacrifices to them. But when Paul and Barnabus caught wind of what was happening, they wasted no time tearing their clothes to show their anguish.
Culture today idolizes celebrity, but let's not get it twisted. Sometimes the most impactful thing we can be is relatable and imperfect. Paul's and Barnabus' passion was to express their humanity -- so, they tore their clothes (this was a traditional Jewish expression of anguish). They in no way were going to allow the crowd to attribute healing power to their actions or words. It wasn't about their long prayer, their care to ask the lame man how he felt not being able to walk or even what his childhood was like. They were swift to show it wasn't about them, their fancy words or their compassion, but it was God's power that healed. Popularity today can be a drug: who likes us? How many people come to us to solve their problems? How many followers or likes can we amass? We have to ask ourselves if we're looking to be popular and liked or submitted to God and impactful. We can't let popularity go to our heads, or it can destroy our heart of humility.
Trying to be liked or popular can look like a lot of things for you. Maybe it's your social media status, maybe you're reliant on your gifts, talents and competencies, or perhaps you value how many people rely on you for wisdom or advice. Paul and Barnabus approached their victory with a humble heart. When David was victorious, he gave God the credit, and when he messed up, he cried for help. Take time today to search your heart before God and give him what you need to give or cry out for any help you might need to have. Power from God is of far greater value than popularity with people.