Money talks volumes.Just check out Demetrius’ modus operandi. Behind the scenes, he’s already figured out what possible effects the apostles’ teachings might have on his pocket and on the income of other members of his trade. They were operating purely from financial motives. This message about not worshiping gods made by human hands was going to hit their pockets hard, too hard it seemed, to those for whom money was master.
There’s no way, he thought, that they should let this teaching take effect. Their trade was at risk. There temple traffic on which their city relied, was at great risk of losing its place of prominence.
Even as I write now, the world is in a lockdown because of the risk of corona virus spreading. It is not difficult to understand Artemis’ line of thinking when we consider how the leaders of countries had to grapple with shutting down their economies in order to save lives.
That’s it. The silversmiths did not see this as a message about saving lives, liberating persons from the bondage of false worship. They would not leave the people free to choose the Lord’s Way. The misguided crowd was ready to get rid of Paul and his companions any way they could. They wanted things to stay just as they were accustomed to. The threat of change was unwelcome.
But, not unsurprisingly, confusion ensued, which allowed an opening for the people to hear a voice of wisdom. ‘Don’t do anything rash, for you put yourself in danger of being charged with rioting. Everyone believes what they have been told about Artemis and the statue that fell from heaven.’
The gospel message can be accepted or rejected. Always. When the Holy Spirit shows the wisdom of accepting and following the Lord, a person can still close not to follow. We have the freedom to believe or not to believe God’s offer as the Almighty God chose to make us human, thus having free will.
People need the Lord; but as we share, let us remember that they are free to choose or to reject the Lord. That’s why I make the point that while unashamedly Christian, I am not a Christian imperialist. While I love for others to have solid faith in the Lord, I can’t force them. I’ll keep on trying all the way, the Jesus way. His love persuades but does not coerce us.
Today, I use my freedom to choose. I will follow Jesus all the way.
Make me a captive, Lord
And then I shall be free;
Force me to render up my sword,
and I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life’s alarms
when by myself I stand.
Imprison me within thine arms,
and strong shall be my hand.
George Matheson, 1842-1906