Several days ago I read Acts 14 and what an amazing story! Paul and Barnabas are so eloquent in communicating the gospel that they are almost too eloquent. The people began to spread the rumor that they were the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes incarnate! The temple priest of Zeus even wanted to make sacrifices to them. This was no compliment to Barnabas and Paul.
Fame and fandom are delicious temptations aren’t they? I wonder today if preachers who might find themselves with this level of celebrity would embrace it or denounce it as Paul and Barnabas did. Would one today chalk it up as “an opportunity for greater influence”- essentially spiritualizing the idolatry of the people and the glory being robbed from God? I really pray that if ever that attention should fall on me I would be blanketed with humility driven by a fear of God and a passion for His glory.
The story doesn’t end there. Paul and Barnabas rejected the celebrity-status knowing it would incur the wrath of the people. In fact Scripture says the people, “Stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city supposing him to be dead.” Of course the Lord restored Paul’s body and his ministry with Barnabas pressed forward, but what great persecution came from this choice! Given the options of being adored by the masses or being greatly persecuted by the same what would we with our 21st century soft-skin and tender egos choose?
I pray we would choose the rebuke of men remembering the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”