What are you so passionate about that nothing will keep you from it? No fear, no hesitation, no obstacle, no risk of trouble? Do you have something to share? An injustice to communicate? A truth to tell? A mission to accomplish?
We know that people get in trouble for lots of reasons. What I find intriguing and inspiring, is those who get themselves into trouble for doing good. There are worthwhile reasons to risk your life or risk your status, aren’t there? We look back on people in history who were courageous enough to do good, knowing that there were risks associated with their actions.
Conviction is a word we can associate with this kind of action. We hope to live out our convictions in such a way that we won’t regret what we missed out on later on.
In Acts 19: 23-40, we begin to see some ripple effects from Paul’s courageous talk on Marz Hill (Acts 17). He and other Christians were about to see some trouble come from the sharing of the good news about Jesus being the one true God. Demetrius, a silversmith in Ephesus is beginning to see a decline in his profits. He and the other silversmiths in Ephesus are losing money on the sale of god dolls. They’re selling (silver) bobble head dolls that represent Artemis, the goddess who brings wealth and prosperity. Artemis’ story tells us that she came from heaven in the form of a meteorite. A huge temple (400ft x 200ft) was built for her for people to worship at. This temple also became a regional bank. Outside the temple is where businesses would set up shop and sell their shrines.
As Christians (people of the Way) were spreading the word that their was only one (true) God (in Jesus), the sales of shrines and souvenirs (of the ‘other’ gods) began to decline. Demetrius was so upset that it caused a riot. The riot wasn’t Paul’s fault, however, the problem did lie in the swaying of people’s opinions on their pagan gods. As this riot took place, Paul was advised to stay away for safety reasons, but the riot still happened.
Money was the main reason behind this riot – not pagan worship. Demetrius puts together a nice speech, but in the end it was his pocket book that drove the agenda. Money makes people do dumb things.
Now, back to out opening question – the one about conviction and passion. Paul and these early followers of Jesus were convicted of this single truth – Jesus is God and his good news was the best (truest) story of all stories. There was one God, and all other ‘g’ods paled in comparison. Because of this conviction, early Christians were committed to living lives of SIGNIFICANCE over lives of SAFETY. They would rather do good and get in trouble than do nothing and live without risks. Don’t hear this the wrong way, they didn’t ‘look’ for trouble, they didn’t hope for trouble, they were actually people of peace. However, they would risk their lives for the truth they stood on (example: Stephen, Acts 7), even if it meant trouble would come their way. You see, Jesus experienced troubled, and he said that those of us who followed him would also experience the same kinds of trouble. That’s why we know this: Jesus never called us to safety, but he does call us to live lives that make a significant difference in the world. We’ve been fooled to think that the centre of God’s will is the safest place on earth, when really, it’s quiet risky. Instead, God’s will is (for sure) a place of significance, truth, purpose and hope.
When Lucy, in the CS Lewis classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, asks if Aslan the Lion is safe, the response is quite profound. “Safe? who said he was safe? No, he is not safe, but he is good.”
I want to choose significance over safety, purpose over comfort, and truth over false hope. How about you?