Tuesday, December 2, 2014
We’re just human – and so were they
The ancient Lycaonian city of Lystra was on top of the tell, or hill, in the background. The small image is a Roman inscription bearing the full name of the city with ‘Lystra’ on line 4.
THE taskmaster view of God is one He, for one, doesn’t like – so it is not a great start for guidance.
Not only does it not do much for Him, it doesn’t do much for us, because we are setting out with a low expectation of His generosity – and that is bound to lower the bar on what we receive.
God loves us and is for us. You don’t need to look into the Bible far to find Him helping people, or calling them back, or restoring them, or giving them warnings that they are off track. That guidance may turn into our guidance. Probably the main way God speaks to us is through the Bible, where what applied to hearers then becomes a headline, a personal attention grabber for us now.
Some of the people we read about in the Bible, who clearly heard God, seemed to have been in a totally different class from us – chosen, holy, and closer to God than we could ever aspire to.
This story is about the Lord working through the apostle Paul, who was in Lystra, a town in today’s southern Turkey. There was a crippled man there who had never been able to do more than drag himself around. Paul saw something going going on in him, and called out for him to stand up – which he did, and began to walk.
When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted: “…The gods have come down to us in human form!… And the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice… [But] when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they… rushed out into the crowd, shouting: “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn… to the living God….”
Here are Barnabas and Paul who are evidently living in close relationship with God even if they say that they are “only men”. Miraculous things are happening all around them. Clearly they have special favour — they are ‘special’.
We read these accounts in the Bible and put these people in a ‘special’ box. We don’t think we could ever get near — so why try?
That’s the wrong perspective. God takes ordinary people like you and me, transforms us by His Spirit and then uses us in His purposes.
He doesn’t expect us to be extraordinary, or even make us extraordinary. He does His extraordinary work through us while we remain ordinary. That way the glory goes to Him rather than us, and we have a better chance of remaining humble – and therefore able to be used again.
God loves to work through people like us, warts and all – with little of ourselves to get in the way.