Sermon in a nutshell: “They continued to preach the Gospel” (Acts 14:1-18)
When we share God’s love with others, two things are going to happen: People either hate us or love us. One thing that we can do for sure is to keep sharing God’s love no matter what. The Bible says, “Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable” (2 Timothy 4:2). Sometimes we want to quit because people hate us when we share the Gospel; sometimes we want to boast ourselves because people give credit to us when we simply deliver God’s love. However, it is not about us. We are here just as channels of God’s love.
When Paul and Barnabas proclaimed the Gospel, “a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers.” However, also “the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.” Here we can see the same pattern also. When we proclaim Gospel, there will be people who hate us and there will be people who love us. Paul and Barnabas did not pay attention to those responses and “they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who testified to the word of his grace by granting signs and wonders to be done through them.”
Some people express their hatred or love in a dramatic and extreme way. Some people in Iconium even tried to stone Paul and Barnabas to death. The apostles learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country. Did they stop preaching? No, there they continued proclaiming the good news. So we can run away from dangers but we cannot run away from our call. Whatever happens, we have to share God’s love, Gospel with others.
Some people in Lystra and Derbe, however, tried to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods! The background story is like this: In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man sprang up and began to walk. When the crowds 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. Even the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice.
This type of misunderstanding is more dangerous than persecution in our efforts to share God’s love. Many wonderful servants of God have fallen into this trap and became corrupted. They enjoyed the love and respect of people more than their calling and mission and allowed others to worship them. They became idols! However, Paul and Barnabas did not fell into that trap.
When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.” We should run away not only from persecution but also from this temptation.
We are called to share God’s love in every way possible. Things will happen to us in the process. When we pay attention to people’s reactions too much, whether they are favorable or not, they will distract us from doing God’s work.
So, brothers and sisters! Share God’s love in every situation. Proclaim God’s love everywhere. God will be with us when we try to God’s work.
- What was the most serious opposition that you had in sharing Good News?
- What was the strongest temptation that you experienced when you share God’s love?