Ok, so I was going to be a little cheeky and bring this post into the 21st century a bit by having a advert for buddha garden statues as the featured image, but let’s stick to the ‘god’ in question:
Acts 19:23-26 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.
in case you haven’t guessed that featured image is a statue of Artemis. I’ve stood in front her in the Louvre and you know what?…….
She’s not that great.
(I can hear the gasps from here.) Maybe when you’re in Europe you just get so used to seeing so much really old stuff that statues tend to start blending in to each other but there, I said it. However, it seems there was once a time when she (or the worship of her) was an enormous factor in the economy of one of the most major cities in the ancient world.
Right up of course until the gospel message started to impinge on the lives of the Ephesians.
This right here is the problem that secular society has with the gospel message; it actually affects your lifestyle. If it’s not, you’re not living according to it.
Part of this process is that it causes people to seriously question the very roots of the political, social and of course spiritual systems of the surrounding society. But have you ever asked: ‘why‘? Why is the biblical mindset so different, so counter to everything else that anyone has ever come up with at any stage of history?
If what you believe makes no difference, why did people believing in Jesus send a city into an uproar? The easy get-out-of-jail answer is “sin,” but that’s not going to cut it if your trying to answer the question in front of an audience who has no idea what sin is.
I was reflecting on this passage this morning and realized that the answer is hidden underneath the words of Demetrius himself.
Acts 19:25-26 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.
Let me paraphrase: “This guy Paul is going around saying that: nothing that we can produce with our own hands can ever be more significant or have any more power to rescue, provide or enable than if we just didn’t bother at all.”
Let me now summarize the paraphrase: “He’s saying that nothing we ever produce is ever going to be enough.”
Every issue people have with the Bible comes back to this idea. Scripture stands in the middle of the secular world with it’s ‘whatever works for you,’ attitude as says “use your brain and think; if you created something with either your hands or your imagination how is it anymore powerful than you?”
But these guys like Demetrius would rather continue with what they know to be an illusion than admit they got it wrong, because then, they’d have to go right back to the start and re-think everything.
The reason for the cataclysmic clash of worldviews is simply this:
Age after age, humanity has made a universal pastime of trying to define itself by what it feels it can control.
….And we’re at it again.
We so want education to be the big answer….because we can control it.
We so want finances to be the answer….because we can control that.
We so want politicians to fix everything…because we can vote them out of office if they don’t.
We can so want spirituality to work in a certain way…because we want to be in control.
We believe the lie that true intimacy can exist without struggle….because we think we can be in control.
As I reflect more and more on this text, on the word even of Demetrius himself I can here the words of Satan in the garden echo down through the pages of our story. Ever wondered how Satan managed to trick humanity into even considering what he was saying? here it is:
Genesis 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
In other words: ‘nothing will be beyond your control.’
But the simple truth is; this may be the last post I write. There is absolutely not one solid guarantee that this wont be the last post you read.
Our lives hang by a thread.
As far as mathematical odds go, you and I shouldn’t have existed. Ever.
No one knows where 80% yes, 80% of the gravity that holds the physical universe together comes from. ‘Dark matter’ is merely a made up term, it might as well be called ‘pink elephant’.
Life without mystery is mere existence. We live in an age that attempts to flatten out mystery and we wonder why things are going wrong. The Bible consistently says, you don’y have the slightest clue what will happen tomorrow and you’re ‘life insurance’ policy is not enough. Anything that you produce to make sense of this life is not going to work because, well, you made it and frankly, you don’t know what you’re doing.
That is what we don’t want to hear. That is the truth that terrifies us.
But there’s a truth that can settle us. 2000 years ago, someone turned up who no one has been able to match in terms of his influence on the history of this planet. He was alone in saying “I’m not here to show you the way, I am the way.” Stop trying to figure this out and trust me, I got this, you don’t.
Don’t be a Demetrius, trust Jesus. Because Artemis and all her versions really aren’t that great.