The Cost of Vision
Holy God, I pray for Your strength today to think clearly, serve creatively, and follow You consistently.
Read Acts 19:21-41
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Think about any Christians you have met from other countries. Thank God for the way in which the Gospel has spread around the world.
Despite Paul’s success in Asia (10,20), he wasn’t content. Although there was still much to do in Ephesus, he planned to visit Macedonia and Achaia to collect gifts from the churches for the Jerusalem church (Rom. 15:25-27). Then it was on to Rome itself (21), and even Spain. Paul had a remarkable ability to maintain a big and broad vision while working in depth. Even today, it’s rare to see those together. “Big vision” people often rush on to the next thing, while “in depth” people remain focused on the local and immediate.
For now, he had to stay in Ephesus, where there were great opportunities as well as significant opposition (1 Cor. 16:8,9). Not much has changed in this regard. Whether it’s persecution in Iraq, hard-line criticism from the so-called “new atheists” in our country or the challenge to Paul from the silversmiths in Ephesus, opposition to Christians is nothing new. As we saw earlier (17:5), the motivation behind that opposition is not always what it seems. It may be fear of being taken over, a reaction to previous hurts or simply vested interest. Demetrius was afraid that his business would lose money (25), although he was clever enough to avoid making this argument look too obvious (27). Does our proclamation of the Gospel challenge vested interests in our own world enough to generate such clear opposition? Should it?
And so, what might have been Paul’s last big public appearance became a dangerous farce. The whole city was in uproar (29), Paul was persuaded not to go into the 25,000-seat theater (30) and the crowd (most of whom didn’t know why they were there!) shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” for a whole two hours (34). Only the brilliant city clerk could calm things down (35-41). Bringing the Gospel doesn’t always bring peace to communities!
Pray for your church leaders that they will have the wisdom and vision to be wise and bold in their plans and proclamations.
Father, You have all authority in heaven and on earth. Fill my mind with clear convictions that You are in charge. Empower me to stand true for You.
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