Paul, to the crowd at Lystra:
"We are here to tell you good news — that you should turn from these meaningless things to the living God! He is the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them. In generations gone by he allowed all nations to go on in their own ways — not that he left men without evidence of himself. For he has shown kindnesses to you; he has sent you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, giving you food and happiness to your hearts’ content.” from Acts 14
In thinking about this chapter, and in the midst of reading and rereading this passionate heart-cry from Paul and Barnabas, I was most moved, most grabbed, by one of their initial statements to the people: “We are here to tell you good news — that you should turn from these meaningless things to the living God!” The word that’s used here for “meaningless things” – ματαίων: “vanities” – is the same exact word used for the Greek translation of the book of Ecclesiastes: “Meaningless, meaningless!” or “Vanity of vanities!” Standing amidst a great crowd of people who have built their whole lives around the Roman ways of life and worship, Paul and Barnabas are courageous enough, maybe crazy enough, to say, “All that you know is meaningless; what we are offering is LIFE.”
What gives them the courage and the audacity to speak of this complete contrast: Meaninglessness vs. Life?
The fact that, as human beings like us, they have lived amidst the contrast, been observant of the contrast, formed opinions regarding the contrast, believed one way about one side of the contrast, and then pushed all their chips in on the life found only in the Living God. They are not 50/50, 60/40, 70/30, 80/20 or 90/10. They are “here to tell you good news – that you should turn (literally turn: meaning repent) from these meaningless things to the living God!” Friends, it’s only with our back to the world’s meaningless things that we can meaningfully, wholeheartedly, face Jesus.
Is that us?