The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
If God is love, we might expect that everything would be all right, all the time. No matter what our differences of opinion, shouldn’t it all work out just fine? Acts 14:13-18 gives us a very different viewpoint. Paul and Barnabas have been greeted by people who, seeing a miracle God has done, consider that Paul is Hermes and Barnabas is Apollo. They prepare to make sacrifices to them as gods.
Some might suggest that there are multiple ways of recognizing God. There’s a strong current of thought which says there’s only one true God but he is recognized by different cultures in different ways, but still the same kind of being.
This denies the very specific character of a deity described by all the different cultures. Apollo is no more similar to the God of the Bible than the unicorn in my back garden is similar to the car in my garage. Apollo is never described as having a consistent moral and ethical worldview. He is always described as being selfish. His desires and actions typically result in death, not life. And, like the unicorn in my back garden, he is fictitious. The God of the Bible is described in the biblical literature as a very specific and consistent individual. He has a desire for good and takes the steps needed to complete that good. His work results in life and hope.
There’s a reason Christian theologians are so very picky. They want to get it right. It is a matter of life and death, hope and hopelessness, truth and fiction. When the people ascribe God’s works to a false god, we can expect things to go very badly. When the people assume that God’s servants are gods themselves, the misunderstanding could prove disastrous to all parties involved.
Above all, we want our world to know the redeeming care of the true God of the Bible. If his word and deeds result in life and hope, why would we want to mix up that message? Rather, we affirm the truth, from beginning to end.
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