Ephesians 1

22 And God has put all things under his feet and has made Jesus the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Followers of Jesus, of all people, are chosen to be people of confidence to bring the joy of God’s blessing to the world, not fear-mongering. Paul didn’t try to provoke fear in order to get people to follow. Think of Jesus, himself. People weren’t attracted to Jesus because they were afraid of him.  No, Christians are to be the joyful presence of Jesus in the world. When we show up people are glad we are there.

Like everything else in the world, people tend to look for the negative. There aren’t news accounts every day of all the amazing compassion and joy that Christians bring to others in the world, even though there are countless examples. Instead, the media focuses on Christians as being against something. Or the Christians who are good at fundraising are the ones who spend money on TV ministries which tend to be shows about raising more money.

Fortunately, it is Jesus who is in charge and as he fills authentic Christians with his Spirit to get things done, the world can know him. And he continues to be known.

ME

When have you been a good example of a Christian recently where others were glad you were there?

Acts 19

28 At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. 30 Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. 31 Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater.

Ephesus is known as a place of power. It is the capital of Roman Asia. Ephesus is also an important religious center. It is the sight of the Temple of Artemis- one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Artemis is the mother goddess of the ancient world. She is goddess of fertility, healing, and miracles. As a result, Ephesus is a city of sorcery and magic.

Paul spends three years in Ephesus. He works as a tentmaker for the Roman army during the day, with a break at midday to teach. The missionaries who reach all of the area of Turkey and the middle East are taught by Paul in this time. Paul is also known by the Ephesians. His teaching becomes so influential that he is hurting the tourist trade. Acts 19 tells the whole story.

It seems Paul is teaching about Jesus without denigrating the Ephesian pagan religion. Some of the city officials warn him he is in danger. Paul is friends with people who are choosing not to be Christians. In fact another official, the mayor of the city, probably saves Paul’s life, and some of his companions, by defending them to the riotous crowd.

ME

What does Paul’s model say about harshly criticizing other religions as an evangelism tool?