In the fourteenth chapter of the book of Acts, we see something happen that happens a lot in our culture. It happens almost every day. Let’s look at Acts 14 and see what that is.

In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”

Acts 14:8-11 (NIV)

It might seem silly that the people thought Paul was a god. Indeed, they also thought Barnabas to be a god too. We might call them primitive and superstitious. 

Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.

Acts 14:12 (NIV)

Of course, because they thought Barnabas and Paul were gods, they treated them as gods.

The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

Acts 14:13 (NIV)

Since Barnabas and Paul didn’t speak the Lycaonian language, they didn’t realize they had been elevated to “godhood,” but when they understood what was happening, they did their best to correct the issue.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (emphasis added).

Acts 14:14-17 (NIV)

Even after explaining they weren’t gods, the crowd wasn’t too sure.

Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

Acts 14:18 (NIV)

Although the crowd didn’t offer sacrifices to Barnabas and Paul, their fervor over Barnabas’ and Paul’s “god” status left them riled up and unruly. 

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.

Acts 14:19 (NIV)

If you’re following along, you’re probably saying, “that doesn’t happen every day! People born lame don’t just get up and walk! That’s a miracle!” You might even think I tried to trick you into reading this article. Clickbait might come to mind. However, what I’m talking about isn’t the healing of the man born lame. I’m talking about how the people responded to what was, in fact, a miracle of God. 

Considering that the people’s response to a miracle was to raise those who appeared to have done the miracle to godhood, we shouldn’t blame them. Furthermore, their stoning of Paul is similar to what happens today when our idols fail us. 

While we can excuse the Lycaonians because they witnessed a miracle and dealt with it accordingly in their framework of understanding, how can we excuse ourselves? In our society, when someone makes a movie, writes a book, or does something that makes them famous, we elevate them to godhood. Indeed, even if someone has something happen to them, like winning the lottery, we place them into the double-edged status of being “famous.” 

Although some people are like Barnabas and Paul, pointing out that they are “only human” like us, we, like the Lycaonians, still want to worship them. Then, when these “gods” do something to betray the status of godhood we have given them, we cancel them. 

While I make no excuse for the perceived and imagined crimes that people commit to get themselves canceled, the act of cancellation isn’t any different than what the Lycaonians did when they stoned Paul for not being the god they claimed him to be. Those people tried to kill Paul, while we try and kill people’s careers. 

Why? Why do we do it? It’s because our idols let us down. An old adage tells us, “Never meet your heroes.” Although people get canceled nowadays without us ever meeting them, the smartphones on every corner, coupled with instant communication like Twitter, basically puts these people and their misdeeds right in our laps. When, not if they slip up, we weigh them on the scales of public opinion and find them wanting. Thus, we ston-cancel them. 

Like Paul, who they only thought was dead, some come back from the “dead” and reclaim their status as gods. 

While I’ve only mentioned celebrities and other famous people, we constantly put people on pedestals when they shouldn’t be there. Whether it’s the teacher we dearly loved, our pastor, or even our parents or grandparents, when we think we’ve seen the best in someone, and that best exceeds our own, we raise them up only to be disappointed when they’ve failed us by revealing their humanity. 

Thus, what we see in Acts 14 with Barnabas, Paul, and the people of Lystra continues today in a cycle of idolatry and failed expectations. We will be doomed to repeat the cycle until we realize that people are people and none of us is better than anyone else, which reminds me of something Jesus said in Luke when he was called “good.”

Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.

Luke 18:19 (NIV)

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.