Adoration, Then the Stones
It was a simple fun competition. The pastors on our church staff had to perform before the congregation at a large fun night where we invited the entire community to help raise money for a teen mission trip. I sang Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” with a full orchestra on a recording backing me up. But one of our youth pastors did a drawing imitating a chalk artist evangelist. Everyone thought he was drawing a picture of Jesus complete with the long hair and beard.
There was tension as they wrestled with how, during this light-hearted part of the evening, a serious composition portraying Jesus would not end up being sacrilegious. But then with a few deft strokes at the end, suddenly everyone saw not Jesus, but a big shaggy dog. The place thundered with applause, and when the responses were measured, my young colleague took the night.
In our early twenties when Mary and I started pastoring a new baby church I continued to feel the adulation of those in the audience, but that night the crowd had turned away from me and they were cheering for someone else. As I was leaving one of my friends even commented, “Dave, that was tough for you not to win tonight, wasn’t it?”
I continue to have to guard my heart from wanting to win the worship of the crowd. It’s blasphemous to accept praise that only belongs to God. This is what we learned from Paul and Barnabas in yesterday’s Devo, when they stopped the crowd from worshiping them as Zeus and Hermes. Today, we learn another lesson about crowds. They can be fickle. One minute they’re adoring you and then the next minute hurling stones trying to kill you.
“Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who had earlier rejected Paul and Barnabas’ message, arrived in Lystra and turned the crowd against them. They stoned Paul and believing that he was dead, dragged him outside the city. While his followers were standing around his body, he got up and went back into the city. The next day, with Barnabas, Paul departed for Derbe.
After proclaiming the good news about Jesus in that city and discipling many, they backtracked to Lystra and Iconium and Pisidian Antioch. In each of these cities they strengthened the souls of those who had decided to follow Jesus, exhorting them to remain true to the faith and stressing that it was necessary through much suffering to enter the Kingdom of God. In each church Paul and Barnabas installed elders. And they prayed and fasted entrusting them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”
LORD, help me to learn from Paul that it’s only about proclaiming the Word of your grace and never about how the crowd personally responds to me. Help me to be faithful to tell the truth about your Son when the crowd applauds and when they stone.
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