Monday, November 30, 2009

Commercialism vs. Christianity

As I visit Christians around the world, I am amazed at the power and passion of Christians in other lands.

And I am constantly hit with the powerlessness and indiference of Christians in North America.

I think the answer is the wholesale acceptance of commercialism by the North American church. No where is that more evident than at Christmas time. Christians try to out do their neighbors in putting up lights, doing the Christmas tree, buying gifts. What does any of that have to do with Christ?

In today's passage there is a clash between Christianity and commercialism. It is severe, and intense. But at least both sides understand that there are irreconcilable differences...

21 -22 "After all this had come to a head, Paul decided it was time to move on to Macedonia and Achaia provinces, and from there to Jerusalem. "Then," he said, "I'm off to Rome. I've got to see Rome!" He sent two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, on to Macedonia and then stayed for a while and wrapped things up in Asia.

Here it comes. If Christianity is the right way, then there is no need for idols. What then, happens to all the idol makers?

23 -26 "But before he got away, a huge ruckus occurred over what was now being referred to as "the Way." A certain silversmith, Demetrius, conducted a brisk trade in the manufacture of shrines to the goddess Artemis, employing a number of artisans in his business. He rounded up his workers and others similarly employed and said, "Men, you well know that we have a good thing going here—and you've seen how Paul has barged in and discredited what we're doing by telling people that there's no such thing as a god made with hands. A lot of people are going along with him, not only here in Ephesus but all through Asia province.
27 "Not only is our little business in danger of falling apart, but the temple of our famous goddess Artemis will certainly end up a pile of rubble as her glorious reputation fades to nothing. And this is no mere local matter—the whole world worships our Artemis!"
28 -31 "That set them off in a frenzy. They ran into the street yelling, "Great Artemis of the Ephesians! Great Artemis of the Ephesians!" They put the whole city in an uproar, stampeding into the stadium, and grabbing two of Paul's associates on the way, the Macedonians Gaius and Aristarchus."

It's Christians (followers of "The Way") vs the commercializers.

"Paul wanted to go in, too, but the disciples wouldn't let him. Prominent religious leaders in the city who had become friendly to Paul concurred: "By no means go near that mob!"
32 -34 "Some were yelling one thing, some another. Most of them had no idea what was going on or why they were there. As the Jews pushed Alexander to the front to try to gain control, different factions clamored to get him on their side. But he brushed them off and quieted the mob with an impressive sweep of his arms. But the moment he opened his mouth and they knew he was a Jew, they shouted him down:
"Great Artemis of the Ephesians!
Great Artemis of the Ephesians!"—on and on and on, for over two hours.
35 -37 "Finally, the town clerk got the mob quieted down and said, "Fellow citizens, is there anyone anywhere who doesn't know that our dear city Ephesus is protector of glorious Artemis and her sacred stone image that fell straight out of heaven? Since this is beyond contradiction, you had better get hold of yourselves. This is conduct unworthy of Artemis. These men you've dragged in here have done nothing to harm either our temple or our goddess.
38 -41"So if Demetrius and his guild of artisans have a complaint, they can take it to court and make all the accusations they want. If anything else is bothering you, bring it to the regularly scheduled town meeting and let it be settled there. There is no excuse for what's happened today. We're putting our city in serious danger. Rome, remember, does not look kindly on rioters." With that, he sent them home."

The difference between then and now?
Well, it was clear that there WAS a difference between the Christians and the commercializers...

No comments: