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Artemis

17 November 2009 158 Comments

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This wDSC_0547eek we got the chance to go to Ephesus, Turkey.  Yes, Ephesus, like the book of Ephesians, Ephesus.  Don’t worry; I had no idea it was in Turkey either.  Anyway, today I had two of the most powerful revelations that I have had on the trip thus far.  The first began when my team did one of the coolest things I have ever done.  We were sitting in the ruins of the main theater in Ephesus and decided to read the book of Ephesians out loud.  We were the only ones in the theater; so we decided to each take a turn reading a chapter out loud.  And I was up first.  To be honest, I was a little nervous.  I was scared that someone would see us and we would get kicked out.  Even though Turkey is not a closed country, it is still very unpopular to be Christian and to preach about Jesus.  I feared getting in trouble with the authorities; and that was my problem, I feared man.  Timidly, I stepped down from the theater seats onto the main stage.  DSC_0581

Hands slightly shaking I turned to Ephesians 1 and began to preach.  It was an incredible moment for me.  Thoughts of Paul standing on the same spot preaching to the Ephesians thousands of years ago flooded my mind as I read.  I envisioned the theater seats full of Jews and Gentiles, listening on the edge of their seats as they heard the good news of Jesus Christ for the first time.  As we each took our turn on the stage, various tour groups made their way through the theater, each silently listening to the words being spoken.  We got to preach where so many spiritual giants had stood before us.  The best part is, we just did what we wanted to do in that moment.  We didn’t set out to preach on the street corner.  We didn’t go searching for converts or beating people with the Bible.  The moment was truly organic.  Who knows how many seeds were planted that day.  I was amazed that people actually sat, listened, and some even applauded as the Gospel was read out loud in a 99.7% Muslim country.  I learned that day to never fear the acts of man.  Instead, my calling is to just fall more in love with the Lord daily and allow him to move me when he wants me to move, and for me to rest and be when he wants to love on me.  It truly is wonderful that the Lord is calling us to just be still and know that He is God.

DSC_0782While we were sitting in the theater I began thinking about Paul’s visit to Ephesus as recorded in Acts.  Acts 19 says that while he was there, Paul basically went in front of the temple of Artemis and declared that “gods made my human hands are no gods at all”.  It angered the people so much that they all gathered in the theater and for 2 hours yelled, “Great is Artemis, god of the Ephesians!”

Let me provide a little background…During this time, Ephesus was one of the biggest cities in the world.  It was a port city, and was therefore was home to many different types of people.  Artemis, their god was one of the most worshiped gods in all of Asia, as well as the rest of the world.  The influence of the Ephesians stretched far indeed.  The temple built for Artemis is one of the ancient wonders of the world today.  This town was completely devoted to their god.  Paul and his companions caused such an uproar that the crowd was ready to kill him.

Paul’s friends prevented him from going into the theater, for fear of his life, but they stood boldly before the crowd.

This story really stuck me hard.  Paul and his friends basically, in today’s equivalent, walked up to the Hagia Sofia and yelled that Allah is no god at all and that Jesus is the only true God.  If they did that today, they would probably be killed instantly…but that thought never worried the Early Church.

I wonder if today we hold on too dearly to our own safety.

I wonder if we think quantity is greater than quality and that we will be able to “reach more people” if we keep on living.

I wonder what would have happened if Jesus thought that way?DSC_0157-300x199

I think sometimes we wait and do not do radical things like Paul because we don’t “get a vision from God” to do it.  So we keep on waiting for an absolution that may never come.  Hasn’t he already told us in his word that we will be persecuted on account of his name?

Scripture tells us that the Ephesians believed they were the guardian of the temple of one of the greatest gods in all of Asia.  Artemis was the most powerful and most worshiped god.  They loved their god so dearly that they yelled adoration for Artemis for two hours. That seems like an impenetrable religion.  Yet Paul kept tilling the hard ground.  He may never have seen any results….

And yet, No one worships Artemis anymore….

DSC_0610I wonder if during the riots Paul saw any hearts changed.

I wonder if he was concerned with his ruining his witness in those moments.

I wonder if he was worried about offending people.

It seems as though he merely preached the Word and let God do the rest.  Too often I think I am scared to speak about Jesus because I fear it will hinder the fragile relationship that I am building with non-Christians.

But who am I to get in the way of God?

If He is passionately pursuing hearts like I think he is, I doubt I am going to be able to prevent it.  Maybe God is just waiting for me to boldly tell people about him, and then he will move in hearts.  John 6 says that the Father draws people to Jesus.

So are we called today to till the ground through consistent friendships?

Or are we still called to preach boldly everywhere we go like the Early Church did?

The whisper still remains…

No one worships Artemis anymore.


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