Read: Acts 19:23-27 NRSV
About that time no little disturbance broke out concerning the Way. A man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the artisans. These he gathered together, with the workers of the same trade, and said, “Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business. You also see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost the whole of Asia this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her.”
There is a recurring theme throughout the ministry of disciples. Yes, the Jews objected to the claim that Jesus was the long-promised Messiah, but some of the most vehement reactions to the gospels came from those who feared that money might be lost. Demetrius was not scared of a deity who took the place of Artemis, he was afraid that he could no longer capitalize on the widespread worship of Artemis among the Ephesians that supported a trade of silver shrines.
Think also of the fortune-telling slave girl in Macedonia. Paul and Silas cast out the spirit within her and “when the owners saw that their hope of making money was gone” they had them thrown in prison.
For as much as our mission work collides with different belief systems, the real pushback comes when money is at stake. No one is bothered or even cares if we speak against human trafficking or child labor in third world countries. They DO begin to care when we actively change our spending habits or begin to disrupt the flow of money. Evil most often does not look like a mustachioed man tying a woman to the railroad tracks just for the sake of being evil. More often it looks like a person who has conditioned their conscience towards self-preservation or self-gratification.
As Christians our mission work begins with ourselves. We ask Jesus to reverse our tendency towards the self and outward toward serving others. We model how to live. We show those around us that the little silver idols that are presented as gods (money, fame, a certain body fat percentage) are made by man’s hands and have no power but what we give them. When we do this, we can expect the people selling us gods to become angry. They’ll say that we are depriving the gods of their majesty. (Well, that’s unAmerican!)
So, GO! Don’t accept the silver shrines anymore. Remember that we serve the true God who cannot be bought or sold and who meets us as we are.