I was actually able to do some Bible study, ohhh imagine that! Came across this interesting pericope in the Book of Acts.
As in just about all the pericopes in Acts that Paul is involved in, he comes into a city, in this case he comes back into Ephesus. Now that’s a red flag right there. When Paul comes to town he usually manages to get people riled up, and either gets a beating or thrown in to jail or often both.
A man named Demetrius is apparently the head of the silver crafters guild in Ephesus. This is no small deal because Ephesus is the home of the temple of Artemis considered to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. There is a serious tourist trade going on here, or devotees, whichever way you want to look at it. Demetrius gathers these craftsmen together and says: “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods…” This pericope is from Acts 19: 23-41. Apparently these guys make souvenirs of the temple that tourists visiting the temple can buy and take home, so the issue here isn’t Artemis vs God the Son, it is the god Mammon vs God the Son. Taking a page out of today’s world, we really don’t care who or what you worship, just don’t mess with my idol, money! What you believe doesn’t matter, so long as you’re making serious money.
Well no big surprise, Demetrius manages to stir up what the local official who confronts them labels as nearly a riot. Surprisingly Paul manages to stay out of trouble. But I submit that the consideration here is obvious. I sincerely doubt that Demetrius was even the least bit interested in Artemis, I doubt that he was the least bit interested in whether Artemis worship should continue or whether he truly needed to know Jesus who Paul was preaching.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of that today. Now the “god” doesn’t have to be generally recognized as a “god”, hey Deuteronomy 5:6, the first commandment, “you shall have no other gods before me”, well a “god” is something you worship, it’s usually in the form of some idol; money, power, sex, possessions, drugs, alcohol, spouse, children. Whatever is most important to you is your “god”, which you make an idol of.
As i said, I really don’t think Demetrius was really interested in Artemis as an idol/god, but when you refer to “wealth”, euporia is the Greek word meaning, riches, wealth, versus mistos is the Greek for wages, that is the pay that the average working man would receive. When you’re saying “wealth”, as Demetrius did, then you’re really saying: “Hey we’re making some serious money here, I don’t really care who “god” is, I just want to make sure my wealthy life style is protected.”
Point? I’m not sure, I would like to think that we may want to reflect on how our vocations impacts or faith life. Do we come off like Demetrius in terms of “yea, I make money off of Artemis and this Jesus that Paul is preaching about? Well he doesn’t mean anything to me except if people decide to dump Artemis, don’t buy anymore out of the temple souvenir store and therefore cost me money.” Read the whole pericope Acts 19: 23-41. Are there things going on in your vocation, that you let interfere with your faith in Christ? What else does this episode bring to mind in terms of how you integrate your faith into your work? What about those around you, what do you see in others in terms of their life in Christ? Is your faith life secondary to the life that generates your income?
There’s nothing wrong with making a good living, there’s nothing wrong with doing your job well, but what are the things in your job that are more “important” that might be taking your focus off of Jesus. Any other observations, comments, thoughts are most welcome.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and a Blessed New Year. Christmas Eve worship at First St Johns are 7pm and 11pm. Everyone is most welcome.