No God Like Experience
It’s hard to argue with experience. When someone has an experience and they use that experience to authenticate who they believe God is, it can be very difficult to help them see past it.
In Acts 14, Paul goes to Lystra. When he sees a crippled man with faith to be made well, he calls on him to stand on feet that have never held his weight. Miraculously, he is healed but the people do something Paul didn’t expect! Instead of believing Paul’s message, they took the miracle as confirmation of their already held beliefs.
To Paul and Barnabas’ astonishment, they determine that Paul must be Hermes and Barnabas must be Zeus, since Paul did all the talking! They broke into joyful worship of whom they believed to be gods in the flesh.
So as it turns out, people can experience the goodness of God and worship another god instead.
When people experience healing from disease or a financial blessing when they thought all was lost, they will turn and give credit to the god they have already chosen to worship. The more good experiences they have, the more certain they become.
Imagine you are flying a plane over a remote village that has never seen planes. When you land, a man who has never seen anything but what he has experienced might have a lot of reasons to believe the plane is a giant bird. In his experience, only birds can fly and everyone he knows agrees. But his experience cannot interpret what he’s seeing. You’d have to explain that sometimes, truth trumps experience.
Experiences are how we perceive the world around us, but they aren’t the way we can interpret the world around us.
When Paul and Barnabas realized what was going on, they ran out amongst them, and cried out for them to stop!
“Men, why are you doing these things? We are men, of nature like yours, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed the nations to walk in their 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.”
So, good things are from a good God, but until people learn about the good God who gave them those good things, they will continue to give credit to the wrong god, or no god at all.
We are in the business of bringing good news to people. The good news is that they have the opportunity to know the good God who they should give the credit to for all those good things they’ve been experiencing.
We can tell them that those experiences were from God, and you were meant to worship him as a result, but you've been worshipping the wrong God.
When someone is willing to trust the God of truth instead of the God of experiences, they get both. Experiencing God is man's greatest endeavor.
The God of truth does deserve the glory for the good things people experience.
So let’s go tell them about him!