Paul and Barnabas experienced an honor that political leaders of their time coveted and which some politicians might still like to have today. In Lystra, they were hailed as gods after they healed a lame man. Barnabas, perhaps the bigger of the two, was identified as Zeus, while Paul the dominant speaker was called Hermes, the messenger God.
In our text for this Sunday, Acts 14:8-28, the two apostles were quick to disavow this mistaken homage, but their experience is a reminder to us all that we can be tempted to accept honor which properly only belongs to God. And we can be misled in assigning that divine honor and God’s priority in our lives to other human beings.
Perhaps the desolation of ruins in the Lystra area can help remind us that human beings and our accomplishments fall far short of divine status. Only what God does lasts and we are not gods.
This Sunday we want to remember to imitate Paul and Barnabas in letting go of glory for ourselves and giving it all to God. At the end of the text, in verse 27, the apostles’ report back to the church in Antioch was about “all that God had done through them.” May the report of our own lives and life together as a church move in that same direction.