Acts 19 – The Power of Antithesis

ChristianGovernance eletter – November 15, 2012

Many Christians in positions of influence today, and many other Christians, seem preoccupied with strategies to build networks and linkages with the adherents of other religions.

This is different from the building of ordinary relationships. The latter is a good thing and the normative way to build opportunities for evangelism as well as to build civilization.The latter is problematic, and quite different from the example left for us by Paul in Acts 19.

Look at verses 23-27. Paul had such a strong reputation as a false religion destroyer that a wealthy businessman in Ephesus was terrified that his idol-building business would go belly up because of Paul.

Paul was not a synchretist. Paul was not a tolerationist. Paul was an idol-destroyer because he wanted people to turn from their idols to the true God and Redeemer. Even his public, political and economic messages were framed in the context of idol-destruction and redemption in Christ. Paul was a worldview Christian.

As a result, this influential businessman stirred up a huge riot that took the city clerk two hours to calm down. He appealed to the second most popular god in his day – and in ours – the bank account: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business.” He was afraid that all the conversions to Christianity that took place under Paul’s ministry would destroy the market for his idol-making 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 gods made by human hands are no gods at all.”

The challenge to us from this passage is obvious: Is our interaction with our communities, our neighbours, our governments accommodationist or does it demolish idols? Do we have a reputation as idol-destroyers? Do the idol-makers in our sphere of influence tremble in their boots?

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