There is a popular bumper sticker on cars driven by some Christians: “WWJD?” that stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” What the Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in human flesh, might have said was stated in His Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-44, all Scripture quotes from the New King James Bible). Did this pastor follow these instructions of the Lord Jesus?
If the Apostle Paul were alive today, would he have burned a copy of the Koran or would he encourage believers to do so? There were two events that took place during Paul’s third missionary journey that could be instructive in answering this question and setting an example for believers in the Lord Jesus to follow.
The Apostle Paul had a very dynamic and fruitful ministry in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor. This trade center was the location of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the temple of Artemis/Diana. Tourists and pilgrims would flock from all over the Greco-Roman world to visit this magnificent edifice to the goddess of the hunt. Merchants hawked their wares trying to make money off the pilgrims visiting the shrine.
The gospel, the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16), began to affect the economy of this tourist attraction. So much so, that the silversmiths who had a lucrative idol-manufacturing business making silver trinkets and shrines to sell to the pilgrims / tourists began to lose money because people were following the Lord Jesus and not worshipping Artemis. This defection occurred not only in Ephesus, but throughout the Province of Asia Minor because “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10).
The shop foreman of the silversmith trade union, Demetrius by name, organized a mob action in conjunction with other craft unions. They met in the large theater of the city, with seating capacity for 25,000 spectators, in order to protest their economic downturn. Demetrius incited the mob by reminding them that they made their lucrative livelihood off the tourists that visit the temple of Artemis. He pointed a finger at the Apostle Paul for turning people away from the temple because he said that those things made with hands are not gods. Demetrius ratcheted up his rhetoric by defending the honor of the goddess and saying the temple of Artemis would be despised throughout the Greco-Roman world (Acts 19:24-27). The crowd in its frenzy shouted with one accord for two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians”.1….
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