A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said; “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 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. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” (verses 24-27)
Demetrius, without meaning to do so, gives powerful affirmation to the impact of the Gospel in Ephesus and all the surrounding region.
The truth proclaimed through the Gospel of Jesus had single-handedly begun to shift the city and its culture. Even the economy and purchasing habits of its people were impacted. More and more of Ephesus’ citizens encountered Jesus and his Gospel, with the result that they turned their allegiance wholly to him, worshipping him alone as Risen Lord, refusing to give honour and glory to any other god.
It was no surprise, then, that sales of crafted idols took a hit. Why purchase a god of silver or stone when you are called to worship the living Lord? Demetrius clearly felt the impact in his bottom-line. So, angrily, he raised the issue with his fellow silversmiths. Oh, he was concerned about the reputation of “Artemis of the Ephesians,” but one senses his urgency is mostly spurred on by faltering economics.
I’m reminded of a story I’ve heard often about the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905. During the revival itself some 100,000 people were said to be converted, with thorough-going repentance and transformation, resulting in overflowing churches and emptied pubs and courtrooms. But the story that has stuck in my memory has to do with the coal mines. Mules, or “pit ponies,” were an essential part of mining production, their brute force being used to haul tons of coal along the underground rail-lines. Prior to the Revival, these mules were spurred into action by the harsh curses and profanities of the miners. But the Revival had such a profound effect on the language of those working in the mines that the poor pit ponies were confused, not knowing how to respond to commands given without expletives. They all had to be retrained!
It makes one think. Do we put too much emphasis these days on political protest when it comes to combatting un-Christian shifts in our culture and laws? We’ve grown adept at fighting in the media and the courts, in the streets and on the airwaves. Might we not be better to focus instead on hearts, seeking the transformation of people? When laws give permission for un-godly decisions, they can be over-ridden by the Christlike behaviour of people who seek to honour him rather than take the full latitude of the law. Permissive laws don’t force our hands. If hearts are truly changed, society will be, too.
It happened in Wales. It happened in Ephesus. Just ask Demetrius.
O Lord, I bring myself to you afresh for your ongoing transformation in my own life. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Make me more and more like Jesus.
And I bring you my community, my nation. Move among us with the transforming good news of Jesus that more and more hearts might be set free from sin, experience forgiveness, and be aligned with your purposes. To Jesus’ glory. Amen.
Reflect: At what points do your own heart and behaviour need to be reshaped? Place them before the Risen Lord. At what points does your own community need transformation and realignment with the Lord? Pray his grace of transformation.