Today’s passage concludes the first missionary journey that began at the beginning of Acts 13, as Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch (14:16). In this time Paul has moved from being Barnabas’ apprentice to a bold minister of the gospel. They have both seen God move through the gentile believers so that many come to faith. They have experienced the incredible highs and lows of leadership and ministry, celebrating those who have come to faith (14:1), battling with those who wanted to call them gods (14:11), and living through incredible suffering and persecution (14:19). It’s an incredibly rewarding yet difficult journey, and on returning to Antioch they testify of God’s all that God had done.
We might be tempted to come back and share the story of our suffering, or of all the costs we had to pay for following Jesus, yet even in their testimony to the church in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas remain focused on the mission God set before them. The key is they saw themselves simply as obedient servants to the mission of God. It’s not that they downplayed their roles, they just didn’t think about themselves that much. They were ‘only human’ (v15) and focused on bringing the good news of Jesus to people. When people wanted to call them gods, they didn’t get caught up in it, and when Paul was almost killed, he didn’t give up. Paul and Barnabas made God and his mission centre of all that they did. Sometimes we simply think too much about ourselves, and too little about God and what he is doing in this world. Sometimes even our reflections on God are only in the light of what we see him doing through us. What would it look like to make God and his mission central in your life? What might be different about your life or the choices you make? Spend some time praying through these questions.