Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Damaging Trade

Acts 19:27 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."

27 οὐ μόνον δὲ τοῦτο κινδυνεύει ἡμῖν τὸ μέρος εἰς ἀπελεγμὸν ἐλθεῖν ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ τῆς μεγάλης θεᾶς Ἀρτέμιδος ἱερὸν εἰς οὐθὲν λογισθῆναι, μέλλειν τε καὶ καθαιρεῖσθαι τῆς μεγαλειότητος αὐτῆς ἣν ὅλη ἡ Ἀσία καὶ ἡ οἰκουμένη σέβεται.

This is the end of a speech that Demetrius, a silversmith, makes to the people of Ephesus.  He saw the writing on the wall with respect to the gospel.  He understood that the message Paul preached would be bad for his business.  Who needs to buy silver idols of Artemis when they can worship the true and living God?

I find it interesting that he only appeals to Artemis' honor at the end of his speech.  If you read the whole passage in context you will see that he is very concerned about the loss of trade.  He should be.  He is after all a pagan and he is doing what pagans do.  I can't fault him for that based on the values he had.

However, my fear is that we have the same mentality in the church.  I highly recommend the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  I think it is typical for us to filter decisions through our wallets.  I know that I do.  I'm thinking about going on for further schooling.  Yet we are likely going to need to replace our home's air conditioner this year.  The well is going to be pretty dry if we do that.  How am I going to pay for more school if we don't have the money readily available?  I don't know.  This is a good test of my faith.

If you are a preacher consider how this affects your preaching.  Are you going to challenge your people to get off their fat American backsides and sacrifice?  Are you going to threaten the American way?  I don't mean to do that for the sake of doing it, but to challenge them to put the cross of Christ front and center and leave everything else as secondary.  Can you bring yourself to do that?  Can you do that if you are working in a Baptist or otherwise independent church knowing that you are likely to offend a prominent family that supports a major part of your church's operating budget?  I don't know if I could.

Demetrius is everywhere in a sense.  He is in our churches.  And he is in our hearts.  Let's be sure not to let his pragmatism get in the way of the truth of the gospel.

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