Today’s reading: Acts 19:21-40
Paul is continuing his travels during which a situation develops in Ephesus. So many people are being converted that the business of manufacturing idols for people’s homes is dropping off. The silversmiths are starting to feel the pinch and become angry that their livelihood is being threatened. Here is the passage:
About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, "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. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.
This is a powerful insight. Christianity changes behavior. Sometimes this will change how we spend our money. This is no less true today. Imagine if Christians worked in unison to achieve our goals. Imagine if Christians only voted for politicians that respected life and religious freedom. Imagine if Christians only patronized businesses that operated consistent with our values. Imagine if we withdrew our dollars from so-called charities that pass them on to organizations that support abortion and instead put all our dollars behind authentic Christian charities.
While this sometimes happens, unfortunately nowadays, this is too rare an occurrence. In part, that is the case because of the fractured nature or Christianity. In Paul’s day, when the business of the idol makers was evaporating, there was only one Christianity united in belief and purpose. Now there are literally thousands of Protestant denominations and each goes their own way. Each denomination, even each individual Christian, is said to be “guided by the Holy Spirit” and is free to make up their own mind and interpret the scriptures and gospel for themselves.
Further, none of these denominations even claim to have the authority to say what is moral and to bind their faithful to the decision. We have seen this in increasing in the last fifteen years or so as one by one various denominations have given in to the secular agenda. From issues like who can be a bishop, to the morality of abortion, doctrine is slowly diluted down until many Protestant churches look more like secular clubs than churches called to be in the world, but not of the world. Satan himself couldn’t have designed a better way to undermine the gospel.
Only one church, the Catholic Church, has remained true to its same teachings for two thousand years. Even then, sadly, sometimes it doesn’t assert its authority forcefully enough. We, however, can have confidence that the Church is following the plan laid out for it by the Holy Spirit. As the faithfu,l it is our responsibility to continually pray for the Pope, our bishops, and priests that they may faithfully guide the Church.
Tomorrow: Acts 20:1-16