30 April – 6 May 2017.
Acts 19:23–41 (click to read).
If the second half of Acts was its own book of the Bible, we could probably call it “Paul’s Mission Disasters”! All through his mission journeys Paul runs into so many problems. He is attacked by crowds, opposed by Jews and magicians, gets bitten by snakes, suffers from storms and natural disasters, and even gets shipwrecked. Paul does a wonderful job spreading the gospel – but it’s certainly not easy. But in Acts 19, Paul faces the most powerful opposition of all: the power of money.
The great city of Ephesus was not only a banking and financial center for the Roman Empire, but also home to the great temple of Artemis – one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. When Paul and his team arrive in Ephesus and start preaching the gospel, they very quickly run into opposition. But surprisingly it’s not the priests at the temple of Artemis or their religious leaders who oppose Paul – it’s the silversmiths and tradesmen. They are furious because this new gospel message is hurting their businesses and costing them money. So they band together to demand an end to the work of the gospel.
Of course, this wasn’t just a problem in ancient Ephesus. Today too many people still believe that religion is ok, but only so long as it doesn’t influence their ability to make money. For them, service to money must always come before service to God – and it’s best for faith to always be kept out of business life. But that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
In this great battle between business and the gospel in Ephesus, it looks like business actually won. Crowds of angry Ephesian businessmen rioted and demonstrated in the streets, they threw the whole city into an uproar, and forced Paul and his team to leave. Today isn’t it also often the way that money usually wins in the battle against faith.
But that’s why Christian business leaders can be such a blessing for the church and for the spread of the gospel. The business world is ruthless and competitive. But when Christian bosses work with integrity and honesty, reject corruption and shady deals, treat their employees with care and respect, and use their businesses to build up the community, then they become a real testimony to the power of the gospel over our working lives. Christian bosses can show the world that while money is important, it can never be greater than our devotion to Christ our Lord.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis