And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked. Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.
Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
Paul shares. God heals. Men continue in their own ways and ideologies, taking what they hear and see and applying it to what they know and think. They continue to be deceived. One had faith to be healed. One was able to see with the eyes of his heart and receive from God. The others were hindered by their ideologies, clinging to their own ways. Paul again shares the difference between the living and the dead and for that he is stoned. God is with Him, and he continues to share the message he has received, moving on from that town.
A recent conversation over what is true love and what is coercion to attempt to get another to believe what is not in their belief system comes to life here. True love, some would say, will allow these who wished to worship Paul and Barnabas to do so for that is their belief system and how they perceive the message and miracles done by the apostles. Is that so? Truly? If so, why share the message in the first place? They were doing no different, they were ascribing the actions of a living God to mankind. This thinking is the thinking that created the necessity for Christ to come and die for the sins of mankind. Paul and Barnabas could have walked away, not rocked the boat, and allowed the people to continue in their deception. They could have said their minds are closed, they cannot receive. But they didn’t. Why? When you know someone is in harm’s way you do not out of love allow them to continue in that way without first making an effort to remove them from harms way.
If we believe that Christ is the way, the truth and the life, that no man comes to the Father but by Him as he said, then we have no choice but to share in the hope the other will receive that way to life. When the people continued in their ways of error, Paul and Barnabas made a last attempt to use it to further illustrate the message of a living God. For that they suffered. Would we sit in judgment of their actions and say they should have allowed the people to continue with their own beliefs? Who are we to judge? God only, knows the heart and God only, knows who will receive. We know the consequences of rejecting Christ. We know the benefits of accepting Him. Those benefits begin now and continue to life eternal. When one has a gift of that magnitude and keeps it to themselves that is not love. We can ask with Paul, ““Men, why are you doing these things?” Why would you not share? The words of an atheist echo: “How much do you have to hate someone to not share what you believe will save their life?” http://youtu.be/VdvES4_MJ5Y Do we love, truly, or do we hate? In saying we love the person, regardless of where they are, does not mean we willingly allow them to remain in harm’s way. It means we step up to the plate and share what we know, in love, in hopes they too will find life. We demonstrate the opposite of love when refuse to share what we have.