The story so far
Paul is everywhere!
Reading: Acts 19
In Acts 19 we find Paul in Ephesus.
I don’t know if it’s just me but have you noticed a few familiar themes running through the book of Acts?
It would appear that wherever the truth of Jesus goes it always seems to come up against opposition, yet it always bears fruit.
Acts 19 is no different.
It gives us an account of Paul’s time in Ephesus, which is in modern day Turkey. Ephesus was a city boasted by the Romans to be the greatest metropolis in all of Asia. It was economically thriving, a place of much trade but a place with real dark undertones. It was a place of witchcraft, sorcery and idol worship. People even earned a living selling statues of the goddess Artemis.
So you can imagine that Paul placing the gospel of Jesus in such a hostile environment is only going to end with two outcomes.
- Lives changed
- A riot!
And that’s literally what we see.
Let’s focus on the good before we get to the bad.
18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Three things to pull out from here:
- These people had a realisation of a greater truth than what they’d known. Is that true for you? How do you live in that truth?
- They didn’t just believe, they acted on it! They burnt the scrolls, symbolic of their past life. Maybe today there is something you are holding on to, that’s actually not doing you any favours. Perhaps it’s time to start a bonfire today.
- It cost them something! Those scrolls were expensive. Following Jesus always costs you something but it’s always worth the cost.
And now the bad
28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him.
Believe it or not, not everyone is going to like the truth about who Jesus is, and some people aren’t going to like the effect it has on a community. Sadly this is a sad fact of life, some people just don’t get it!
So should we stop spreading the love of Jesus? Just in case it causes seeming offence or even a riot?
The truth of Jesus is most definitely something to be shared. Admittedly some of us may need a little advice with how we share it (with love and grace) but we must share it!
It’s too good to keep to yourself. Forgiveness, freedom and eternal life!
Think of the scrolls. Remember those people who burnt their scrolls having acknowledged Jesus as Lord? Do you think that the Apostles would have walked away and not said anything if they knew a riot would have been caused?
Of course not!
They did it, because they loved seeing people step out into the freedom that God had for them.
I love the story of one of John Wesley’s first trips to Barnard Castle. The crowd was so rowdy that the fire engine hose had to be turned on them. Yet it didn’t stop the Gospel being preached, and more importantly lives being changed.
In times of hardship and seeming persecution remember that is the best ground for lives to be changed!
The gospel thrives in adversity.
It’s light in the darkness!
Contributed by Ps Ed