Facing the Fickle
Read Acts 14:8-20
When Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. In the past he permitted all the nations to go their own ways, but he never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.” But even with these words, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them.
Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
Only days after the people in Lystra had thought that Paul and Barnabas were gods and wanted to offer sacrifices to them, they stoned Paul and left him for dead. That’s human nature. Jesus understood how fickle crowds can be (John 2:24-25).
Paul and Barnabas were persistent in their preaching of the Good News, considering the cost to themselves to be nothing in comparison with obedience to Christ. They had just narrowly escaped being stoned in Iconium (Acts 14:1-7), but Jews from Antioch and Iconium tracked Paul down, stoned him, and left him for dead. But Paul got up and went back into the city to preach the Good News. That’s true commitment! Being a disciple of Christ calls for total commitment—whether times are good or bad. As Christians, we no longer belong to ourselves but to our Lord, for whom we are called to suffer.
When people approve of us, we feel good, but that should never cloud our thinking or affect our decisions. In what ways, if any, are you trying to live up to someone’s expectations? How will you follow Paul and Barnabas’s example of trust in God? What commitment level does your life reflect: total or partial?