Scripture: Acts 14:8 In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man sprang up and began to walk. 11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 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. 14 When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, 15 “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.
Observation: I’m struck by the posture Paul and Barnabas took with those who worshipped the gods of ancient Greek mythology – and who attempted to worship Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas didn’t attempt to understand or affirm the adherents of a different religion. They didn’t recommend some sort of inter-faith dialogue in which they would participate as equals. Instead they said in v.15 “you should turn from these worthless things to the living God…”. That’s a very bold statement.
Application: We live in a very different day and age than Paul and Barnabas, which goes without saying. We have different attitudes about religion, particularly in a religiously pluralistic culture like ours. The question I’m asking myself this morning is “How much should Paul’s attitudes about other religions inform my own?” Am I to view Christianity as simply one religion among many (as tends to be our current perspective) or should I adopt a more exclusive paradigm like Paul? I don’t know.
Prayer: Lord give us wisdom to engage other religions in the way that most pleases you. Amen.