Happy New Year! I hope you will take time this month to assess last year and plan for the new. From time to time it is also important to ask the question: “From where am I getting my values and goals? Are they worthy of spending the one life I have on this earth to achieve them?”
If you are a Christian, that means you are a follower of Christ. You draw your marching orders and objectives from Jesus as your commanding officer. It can be very disruptive to follow Jesus after a long time of pursuing goals received from a world system set against Him. Consider the experience of Demetrius of Ephesus in Acts 19:23-27:
A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this 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. There is danger … that our trade will lose its good name…”
Demetrius was not a Christian. He was in business–profitable business. Along comes Paul, who informed people that the gods made by human hands are not gods at all. Sales of silver shrines plummet. This hurt Demetrius’ business. For this reason, he rallied the craftsmen who shared his business interests and motivated them (by fear of losing money and prestige) to begin a riot in the city.
Certainly, it is unfortunate for Demetrius that he lost money. No businessman goes into business to lose money. However, Demetrius did not appear to even consider whether Paul’s claim is true – that gods made by human hands are not gods at all. Demetrius’ decision to oppose Paul seems to be driven by his goal of maximizing profit above any other values. He might have disagreed with Paul, but the text seems to indicate the loss of money was his first concern.
What else could Demetrius have done? If he agreed with Paul that something made by his hands was inferior to himself, and therefore unworthy of worship, he could have stopped making those shrines. In the short run that would mean loss of profit. It would be inconvenient, but it would not mean Demetrius no longer had purpose. If Demetrius had decided to follow Jesus, he might have had to think and work to consider how his skill as a silversmith could be directed into making other vessels or products that would bless and benefit others. He could have followed the model of others in the city (Acts 19:17-20) who burned all their magic scrolls and forsook their old ways – even at personal cost of 50,000 drachmas (between $500K-1 million today). Taking the first step of obedience often helps to clarify the next.
If we follow Jesus, it could disrupt our business or our lives. It might not-at least, not immediately. It might even make you a better employee or boss. However, there will likely come a time when you will have to choose which of your values are supreme. As my friend Don says, when the rules do not tell us what to do, we go to the King in our life. That king could be comfort, convenience, maximizing profit, or obedience to Jesus and making disciples.
If you want to follow Jesus this year, what is the first step of obedience you see in 2022? Let’s help each other. Also, please pray for us, that God will use YBL as a next step of obedience in the lives of men.