Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK THREE
ORBIT – DAY FIFTEEN
Hello and welcome to another Orbit – the daily devotional from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Each day we give you a short passage of the Bible to reflect on, a way of putting it into practice in your life, and a chance to pray and reflect.
BIBLE READING – Acts 19: 23-32 (edited)
About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 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 not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”
When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theatre together. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.
This story is another demonstration that the good news about Jesus isn’t necessarily heard as good news by everyone – especially if you’re someone who makes their money from the sorts of things that Jesus came to save us from. A few days ago we saw how Paul and Silas were thrown in prison after they healed a slave girl who was being used as a fortune teller; in today’s reading, opposition is stirred up from a silversmith who makes his money selling idols.
Here’s a big statement – there is probably no sin that the Bible focusses on more, no sin that seems to arouse God’s anger so greatly, as the sin of idolatry. Of defying that commandment that “you shall have no other gods before me.” Idolatry consistently causes the downfall of God’s people all throughout the Old Testament, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it shows up here in the New Testament too.
Our instinct as broken human beings seems to be to put something else – anything else – in that ‘god’ space at the centre of our lives. In the story here it was the goddess Artemis, who defined so much of everyday Ephesian life; today our gods have more subtle names – ambition, career, sport; even family. We tend not to ask silversmiths to make us literal representations of these things to put on our mantelpieces, but in truth our lives are often littered with the trophies and the trappings of these things that we put first.
Paul’s call to the Ephesians here – which many were clearly answering – was to put Jesus in that first place; to put the one true God at the centre of their lives. And while some people agreed that this was a good idea, it provoked a raging, spoilt-child reaction from some others. The ringleaders created a riot and drove everyone into the local amphitheatre… but in truth, most people just came along to follow the crowd. My favourite line in this passage is in verse 32: “Most of the people did not even know why they were there.” There might have been an instinctive reaction to Paul’s message, but in truth, most people weren’t even sure what to think.
We will face opposition when we share our faith. But while the atheists around us – the people today who want to take an opposing view – might should loudly, there actually aren’t that many people who have hardened their hearts against God. Most people have idols in their lives, standing in God’s rightful place, but in truth they’re not opposed to the idea that there might be a loving God who is bigger than those things. Perhaps all they need to see is what it looks like to truly live with Jesus at the centre of their lives. And they’ll only get to see that, by looking at us. Quite a challenge.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Lord, help me to make sure that you truly are the person at the very centre of my life. Help me to see where I might be putting my trust in idols, in other things which I make more important than you. I pray that as people look at my life, they’ll see what it looks like to make you top priority. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
Today, try to identify the biggest priorities in your life. What are the things that you’re putting first – that you care most about. Family, school or other work? Career? Sport? There could be all sorts of things which really matter to you. Now, spend a little bit of time asking God to show you where he is present in those things – and remember, God is just as present in a maths lesson and a game of Fortnite as he is in a church service. Finally, ask God to help you keep your priorities in order, with him at the centre of it all.
If you want to get in touch, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Instagram – we’re @stmarys_satellites. Let us know what you think of this daily reflection – please – we’d love your feedback.
We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit on Monday. Thanks for taking part today!