In the course of Paul’s ministry, he visited the city of Ephesus. It’s also to whom the letters of Ephesians is addressed. As everywhere else he’d visited, he boldly proclaimed the Gospel. Because of the polytheistic nature of the culture in which he existed, he became an apt apologist as well. Ephesus was one of the places he’d used his gifts/talents. The following situation stirred soon after:
Acts 19:23 About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”
The passage brought an idea to the forefront of my mind. The Gospel is only dangerous when it exposes something we hold more dear than Jesus. When we’re in harmony with God’s Word and are striving to establish Kingdom principles at any cost, we have no cause to fear. These men realized Paul’s preaching was going to affect their bottom line and instantly became enraged. From the context of the passage, it seemed it was very common in their society to have theological debate and welcome new deities and ideas. It was only when belief became equivalent to cost that it was real to them.
This is a hard message. My prayer has been over the last several months that God would begin to use all of my resources for the glory of His Kingdom. It doesn’t take long to experience the friction caused from the transfer of belief to action. These men had no desire to follow Christ, so it was easy to become enraged when something they didn’t believe hurt their pocketbook. We can see this in society today. Christ’s standards are being enforced on those who don’t believe because believers (rightly so) want to be represented in government as well. This costs them something. Most view it as an intrusion of their freedom and liberty. “It’s fine if that’s what you believe but don’t transfer that on to me!” is a common phrase that’s heard in our present day. Our duty here should be to live an example that accurately displays the “why” behind this intrusion. They only see the damage and chaos to their routine. We need to point them to the source – Jesus.
This isn’t just a tough message for those who don’t know or believe the truth. In David Platt’s book, “Radical”, he exposes how American culture has melded the “American Dream” with Christianity. Jesus “is still alright with me” as long as it doesn’t affect our online shopping. Like a good chiropractor, God aims to straighten our lifeline so all obstacles are removed on the path to our health and well-being. However, some of us have gotten very used to being hunched over so we can keep a better grip on our wallets.
In my life, I pray when the “rub” comes from the contact of belief and cost, my reaction isn’t rage but to say as the apostles did to Christ, “…Increase our faith!” Luke 17:5. And then…step out.