In the first readings of today the Apostles continue with their journeys spreading Jesus message of good news and they again are met with the hostility that had become so familiar to them. The reading opens with the threat of their stoning, such was the hatred by their opponents! They did have their victories though first in the healing of a cripple, an important victory though one that likely infuriated the apostles enemies even more, the cripple cured likely had little social standing or influence on that society. The next victory though could have easily changed the course for the apostles Paul and Barnabas.
“The gods have come down to us in human form.”
They called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes,”
because he was the chief speaker.
And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city,
brought oxen and garlands to the gates,
for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.”
That endorsement by those people and the priest of Zeus could have had enormous implications for those disciples had they chose to accept that priests endorsement. Being considered gods by those people could have brought what were humble disciples of modest means the privilege of wealth and authority and power. Rather than remaining humble disciples of Jesus, they had the chance to become His successor. They gad the opportunity to become gods, but they refused. They remained in Christ rather than breaking off into their own empire. They remained on that vine Christ spoke of and bore much fruit. Imagine though if they became an offshoot of Christianity, what would they have achieved and what would be different today? Most certainly they would have been yet another sect that dies off, and their disciples would likely searched for yet another false god. By staying on that vine of Christ though they bore much fruit. We still harvest their fruit today.
That has me thinking of the many offshoots of Christianity today. Secular humanism, New Age religions, and even the more mainstream Christian denominations, and those based purely on science fiction. Add to that the new gnostic, the agnostics the intellectual’s, and philosophers, and modern witchery. Where will those branches be in the next millennia? Will those offshoots bear much fruit or be tossed in the fire?