Idolatry alive and well

 

Idolatry: Alive and Well!

Acts 14:5-18

5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, jto mistreat them and kto stone them, 6 they learned of it and lfled to mLystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, 7 and there they continued to preach the gospel.

Paul and Barnabas at Lystra

8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was ncrippled from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and oseeing that he had faith to be made well,2 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he psprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, q“The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called rZeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of rZeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and swanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they ttore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, uwhy are you doing these things? We also are men, vof like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that wyou should turn from these xvain things to ya living God, zwho made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he aallowed all the nations bto walk in their own ways. 17 Yet che did not leave himself without witness, for he ddid good by egiving you rains from heaven and ffruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with gfood and hgladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.

    Imagine what courage or stupidity it took for Paul and Barnabas to tell the priest of Zeus that he worshiped idols, this at the very moment he was prepared to offer sacrifice to them.

    And we too offer sacrifice to those who are of the “same” nature as us. It is impossible to read face book, the newspaper, or any media and not recognize the idolatry of nationalism and tribalism, and it becoming more vicious every month.

    It is impossible in look at media to see the tribalism that is all around us: homeless versus housed, republican versus democrat, immigrant, undocumented, versus citizenship, and so on.

    Tribalism and nationalism is an instinctive defense against the global realities that have rendered the age of the nation-state decadent :   Refugees, destabilization, flooding of farmland, rising seas, scarcity of food, homelessness, a litany that screams a need for unity in the wake of common challenges of our own making–greed, pride, racism.

    God gave us free will and we are allowed to go our own way, and so we chose the unity of Babel over the humble unity of Jesus and his faithfulness redeemed in all of creation.

    Sixteenth century Francis de Sales offers us a way out:

” Love the poor and love poverty, for it is by such love that we become truly poor. As the Scripture says, we become like the things we love. If you love the poor you will share their poverty and be be poor like them. If you love the poor be often with them. Be glad to see them in your own home and to visit with them in theirs. Be glad to talk to them and be pleased to have them near you in church, on the street, and elsewhere. Be poor in conversing with them and speak to them as their companions do, but be rich in assisting by sharing some of your more abundant goods with them.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

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