Keep it Weird, Lystra
8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked.
9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well,
10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.
11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”
12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out,
15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to ya living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
16 In past generations he allowed all the nations bto walk in their own ways.
17 Yet che did not leave himself without witness, for he ddid good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.
As we meet people where they are, use their authoritative wisdom and point our conversations to the good news of Christ’s salvation, we are going to encounter some weird things. There are people out there that believe weirder things than a Jewish carpenter dying on their behalf and rising from the dead in a few days.
The fact is, everybody believes weird things and wonders if other people think they are weird for it. In this passage, Paul and Barnabas do something wildly strange: they miraculously heal a guy. That sounds weird, but it was in their power to do it, and so they called on the name of the Lord and it worked.
Once it worked, everyone reacted in a way that they never expected. They worshiped Paul and Barnabas like they were Zeus and Hermes. They actually thought that’s who they were. Barnabas must have had the power and Paul was the messenger. (Hermes is the delivery guy on the FTD floral logo.)
That was where cultural sensitivity stopped. They ripped their clothes and told the people the truth about Zeus and Hermes.
There are times where we need to be weird and tell people the truth. It might ruin our conversation, it might get us disgraced, but our conversations must focus on Christ and not the cultural debate that we began the conversation with. That is what makes this process that Bret talked about yesterday so good. We don’t lead with “Zeus is a fake!” But we definitely finish with “Jesus is the only way, there are no others.”
Every time in church history that those steps got mixed up, syncretism and weird variations from the Gospel developed.
Even if they worship you like a god, keep your eyes on the One that created it all. He will be worshipped in all of the world in one way or another. Better to bring it about directly.