May 15, Mistaken Identity

Acts 14:5-18

There was an attempt in Iconium
by both the Gentiles and the Jews,
together with their leaders,
to attack and stone Paul and Barnabas.
They realized it,
and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe
and to the surrounding countryside,
where they continued to proclaim the Good News.

At Lystra there was a crippled man, lame from birth,
who had never walked.
He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him,
saw that he had the faith to be healed,
and called out in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet.”
He jumped up and began to walk about.
When the crowds saw what Paul had done,
they cried out in Lycaonian,
“The gods have come down to us in human form.”
They called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes,”
because he was the chief speaker.
And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city,
brought oxen and garlands to the gates,
for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.

The Apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments
when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting,
“Men, why are you doing this?
We are of the same nature as you, human beings.
We proclaim to you good news
that you should turn from these idols to the living God,
who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.
In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways;
yet, in bestowing his goodness,
he did not leave himself without witness,
for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons,
and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts.”
Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds
from offering sacrifice to them.


“Do I know you? You look familiar”. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard these two questions, I would a not so rich man. Actually i do get asked that more than I should. I really don’t know why. But I guess some people think I am someone else at best, or they have already met me at worst. It’s a case of mistaken identity. No I didn’t steal someone’s identity either. On the other hand I am not claiming to be someone I am not either.

Today we are reading about Paul and Barnabas and their trials and tribulations of being men of God in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ aka “The Gospel”. As we read today they are not getting the red carpet Hollywood treatment . In fact they were run out of town being stoned. They decide to try their luck somewhere else. To their surprise ( I am speculating) they are presumed to be the human form of Greek “gods” after they heal a man. Mistaken Identity.

Imagine what they could have done if they would have played the role. They could have said in a rather macho voice,
“Uh yeah, we are Zeus and Hermes and we have a message for you…We want to tell you about Jesus”… That would change the notion of mistaken identity to identity theft, even if they were stealing the identities of two guys that really never existed (don’t tell the ancient Greeks). No Barnabas and Paul take the high road and set them straight. Why? Because you can’t base a truth on a lie. It will never stand up.

The truth will always stand on it’s own. A lie will always implode and take those with them that are attached to the lie. Lies always beget more lies. We see evidence of that when the Jewish leaders discussed in private the Apostles and Gamaliel wisely stated that if the Christians were really of God they would last, and if they weren’t, they would not.

Paul is the master of communicating to people in a manner of where they are in their lives. He finds ways to communicate to them effectively in regards to their culture and current events. He meets them on their terms.

Thought for the day: It’s not enough for me to say I am a Christian, It’s not enough to act like a Christian. Rather, I need to live like a Christian. I can’t live a lie. Giving one’s self to Christ is an all or nothing thing. Either you do or you don’t. Anything less is a lie. A lie to God, a lie to yourself, and a lie to everyone around you.

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