Yesterday I told you some stories of how following Jesus can impact the bottom line. Here’s a time it happened in the Bible:
 About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way.  For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen.  These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth.  And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.  And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”  So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel.  But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him.  And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater.  Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together.  Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd.  But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
(Acts 19:23-41 ESV)
Fun fact – the Christian movement was first called The Way.
Notice Demetrius’ first grievance isn’t that the Christians are wrong about Jesus, that he didn’t exist, or any intrinsic problem. No, their problem is that the Christians don’t promote idol worship, and that’s not good for business.
He says the reputation of their trade is at risk, and their goddess and her temple, but those appear to be ways of whipping up the crowd, not his actual reasons. He prefaces these two reasons with “and also” which suggests they aren’t as important to him as the money.
The real reason Demetrius wants to shut down Paul and the Christians is profit. If enough people become Christians, demand for silver idols will drop! So Demetrius stirs up a riot. Some people don’t even know the controversy, they’re just part of a mob, and mob rule takes over.
The positive is that he clearly gets the core of Paul’s message, and it seems to be spreading in a threatening manner. On the downside, the crowd is now chanting “Great is Artemis” for hours. They aren’t reasoning, they aren’t discussing and listening, they are just whipping themselves into a frenzy.
Paul wanted to make his case, probably thinking his status as a Roman citizen would keep him safe. But some friends in high places advised him not to stick his neck out. Instead, Alexander ended up being named their spokesman, and he had no impact.
Question: What do you think should happen next? Can this situation be controlled? What options seem to exist?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]
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