When Religions die…

They screamed for hours, faces red and throats raw, those men whose hands fashioned the image of their god.

They screamed and raged against the truth, against any argument that would diminish their livelihood.

The scene is Ephesus, a few decades after Christ’s ascension. Paul and others testified in the city of the risen Christ. In the center of the city, stood a statue, reputed to have fallen from heaven:Diana of the Ephesians. Silversmiths nearby plied their trade, small images of the statue for weary Pilgrims to take home.

People had begun to listen in earnest to Paul’s teaching. This worried the silversmiths. What if people stopped worshipping Diana? Did the silversmiths sense that the age of idols had come to an end? Their discussion turned into a shouting match, which later led to a city wide riot, people screaming “Great is Diana of the Ephesians” for hours. The would not listen to reason, to well thought out arguments. They gave themselves completely over to frenzy.

Dear Beloved, we are not worshippers of a dumb idol. Though some may say we have entered into a post Christian age, we are not like the servants of Baal or Diana who must give themselves over to our most animal nature before our God will act. “If the Lord is God, then serve Him.”

Facebook rants, angry diatribes, and cool Christian slogans on the back of our t-shirts are about as engaging of our culture as teenagers screaming “I love Jesus, how bout you, I love Jesus yes I do” for several hours. All end in a wincing headache.

If you love Jesus, then love your neighbor. If you have been called to preach, then do so reasonably, knowledgably, and under inspiration. The early missionaries set a hearty example of this in Acts. The preached the full counsel of scripture, calling sinners to repentance, and all men equally in need of redemption. Their arguments were clear, concise, and cognizant of the people and culture they were addressing.

Look to Paul on Mars Hill. He affirmed what was pointing to Christ in the popular culture, and the God awareness the people already had, then showed them the better way. He didn’t back down, but at no point did he stop engaging the people that he was speaking to. No bandwagon or gimmicks. Just empathy and truth. Even in the face of mocking, Paul engaged the people.

We can look to this example , even if we are not called to preach to large crowds. If we believe in a Living God, who changes not from age to age, then there is no need to cover our ears and scream loudly about how great He is. We can take our hands off of our ears and listen.

We can listen to the heart cries of our culture and our neighbor. We can listen to the Holy Spirit as he directs us in His mission of conviction and comfort. We can speak the truth in the quiet whispers of love. We can respond in the perfect love that casts out all fear.

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