in past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them. [acts 14:16-18]
not without witness
these words from paul are intended for a particular situation – the people of lystra were treating him as a god – yet they reveal significant universal truths.
have you seen it rain? have you eaten food? then you have experienced evidence of God’s faithfulness and provision. of course, in the greek world worshippers of zeus attributed rain and harvest to this false god.
paul is aware of this, but makes the argument that rains, fruitful seasons, food, and gladness are the gifts of the One True God, not zeus.
seriously, i am not a god…
in context, it is important to note that barnabas was currently being hailed as zeus, because a public miracle had occured. yet even with paul’s assertion that they were not gods, only servants of the real God, they still had trouble convincing people otherwise.
this is important.
we all know that we should worship something. there is an innate desire within each of us to give thanks for nature, for the miraculous, for things like rain and fruitful seasons that we know to be beyond our control. these people wrongly worshipped zeus as the giver of these things, and were desperate to see zeus as a person (barnabas). they wanted it so badly they wouldn’t believe even barnabas telling them he was not a god at all! like the people of lystra, we want a God that is accessible; that we can see and touch and know to be real.
at the end of the day, we all would like to see what God would look like as a person:
how would God interact with others?
what would God do in difficult situations?
how would God answer religious questions?
what would be important to him?
thankfully, because God did reveal himself as a human through Christ, we can know the answers to all of these and more.
God does not need an elaborate religious explanation of himself. paul was brilliant, and possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the faith. yet here he gives a simple, non-religious explanation of God that we can use as a template for how we share with others. no scripture is quoted, no doctrine articulated, no funny religious wording required.
just an assertion that God is good enough to give you rain to grow food, and even in these things leaves no question to who he is and what he can do.
~ jason soroski