Here is the end of Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey. Conflict continues, to the point of Paul being beaten and left for dead. That prompts them to proclaim, “we must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions” (14:22). Is that only true for them? Or does it apply to us too? Perhaps we should remember the words of Jesus:
John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you. Remember what I told you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they obeyed my word, they will obey yours too.“
We have been very fortunate in the USA, but we also see the increase in hostility toward Christians as our culture adopts values that are contrary to the Bible. Even so, perhaps our greatest offense is actually believing that there is only one way to heaven, and that way is Jesus! Believers in other parts of the world have been facing ridicule, rejection, arrest, torture, and death for centuries. Are we willing to continue to obey the truth and share our faith in the face of animosity?
Paul and Barnabas, in direct contrast to Herod in Acts 12:20-24, refuse to accept praise that isn’t rightfully theirs (14:8-18). Of course, this praise is associated with idolatry, and we will probably never experience that! But the reminder for us is that whenever we are praised, we should give glory to the One who gave us our talents and abilities, rather than receive the glory for ourselves.
One final note: Paul appeals to natural revelation in 14:17 and uses it to show the good that God has done for all mankind. We probably don’t remind people of that enough!
For worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erCILDJTM1c