“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.” Acts 14:15
The verse above comes from a longer story that we’ll explore deeper. In the story, the Apostle Paul is out sharing the good news of life in the name of Jesus. While he is doing this work a lame man comes to them for help, Paul and his friends help the man and heal him of his lameness. The people are amazed! In their amazement they focus on how amazing Paul and his friends are and think they must be some sort of gods. In response to the miracle the people want to worship Paul and his companions. The verse above is Paul’s response: “Don’t worship us. Worship the God who sent us.”
While a story like this may seem remote, it is not as farfetched in some ways as we may wish. Often, when we hear people talk about the church the first thing people mention is how much good we are doing in the neighborhood or for people with needs or something like that. We feel good about the work we are doing and are glad when others notice. All of us like to know that we are doing well and that we are appreciated.
But we have to be careful. If people notice us and appreciate us and we don’t do the extra work of pointing them to God, our good work can be a distraction from the truth. The truth is that God has called us, shaped us, given us gifts and talents, and then sent us to use them to make a difference. When we do good things we are using those gifts and talents well and surely, God is pleased. But when we then fail to speak clearly and confidently about the God who loves us, died and rose again for us, and then sends us to use our gifts as part of the ongoing work of Jesus we can miss the mark. Suddenly, the gifts we are to use for the glory of God bring more attention to us than to God.
As you reflect this week, ask yourself two questions. First, are you using your gifts and talents well and in ways that make a difference? And second, are you also speaking clearly so that people don’t get distracted by the things you do but instead are pointed by them to encounter an amazing God who uses even people like us?
In our baptismal service we are charged with the words of Jesus: “Let you light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” May all of us do amazing things. But may we also use them to speak clearly about the God in whose name we do them.