No one would believe you if you told them in the year 2016, the way to keep in touch with people is by U.S. Mail. Type your contracts on a typewriter and fax them. You don’t need email or smartphones. You don’t need to be on social media. Life is going to get simpler. People are just tired of all of those things. It is obviously not how this story is unfolding. Today small children can unlock smartphones and tablets with passwords before they can speak complete sentences.
Today I am able to do a video and type out a blog and with in a few hours hundreds or even thousands of people might see it. Very few people can still run a business without using the internet. Our life has become convenient in this way. We can communicate with many people instantly.
We can view or listen to anything we want to, immediately. There is an enormous blessing in this. I can glean from all sorts of church leadership or theological materials. People are more educated and can check your facts at any moment during a sermon or a blog post. The time we live in is fantastic!
So how does this relate to Ephesus? The Apostle Paul went into Ephesus to preach the Gospel. What he found there was a city based on the Greek Goddess Artemis of the Ephesians. The Temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Men would sail there and walk just a short distance inland to the temple. There they would be dominated by the priestesses of Artemis. This was the local religion. Men were drawn to it for the sexual aspect. Women were drawn to it because they were given power in a time when women didn’t have much power.
But imagine in this dark environment, the Gospel went forth and people believed. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is to help them learn how to live out their faith in the midst of all of the corruption and temptation around them. These men and women used to participate in the idol worship of Artemis. Many were deep into sexual sin and couldn’t escape. When Paul went to Ephesus he preached the Gospel and discipled people to leave this sin, and his preaching affected the entire community. Many locals left the Artemis cult and many travelers were deterred away from the cult as well. Demetrius the silversmith had Paul kicked out of the city because it hurt his business. Now Paul has to influence this church from a distance.
The Gospel set them free. They now had the power to live like no one around them was living. They now had the power to live in peace. Paul reminds them at the beginning of the letter that they are adopted into God’s family. Paul reminds them they have been given, “every spiritual blessing in heaven.” They didn’t have to return to their sin. They were different now. They were fully adopted into God’s family and were even given an eternal inheritance.
Now the decision to follow Jesus in this setting could bring on persecution, possibly. But more than that, this decision was going to hurt their finances. It will isolate them socially. It will be a struggle. So, how do they live it out? God blessed them with His Holy Spirit, that’s how. He also gave them each other to lean on.
Today as people we are bombarded by the Internet, which is the new Ephesus. We have access to anything we want at all times. Our children have the same problem. We think we have them parental locked out of all of the dangerous places on the internet, but do we?
How do we teach them to be counter cultural? How do we bring this Jesus to them that wants to rescue them from all of this?
So when we are immersed in this, we can’t seem to escape it. We scroll through more bad news, and we encounter people being mean to each other on the internet and it is like a car wreck. I can’t look away! I must see how this turns out. It is a sickness.
So God becomes very, very, very small in our own minds. The problems of the world become much bigger. I understand the problems we face are enormous, but our God is a consuming fire. That is why Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians. In Chapter 1 He greets them with grace and love from Jesus Christ. He speaks to them about how God isn’t surprised by their hardships, but God has uniquely positioned them to live out their faith in the midst of a culture where that is difficult. At the end of the day He (God) will be glorified through this. They will be changed and can show the other people living around them there is a better way.
Thanks for Reading.
Learn to Read the New Testament in a Year
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The New Testament Challenge is endorsed by Tom Ziglar (Son of Zig). Here is what he said, “The New Testament Challenge by Aaron Mitchell is the perfect way to experience the New Testament in one year. The one page per chapter guide is perfect in helping you understand God’s truths an how to apply them to your life. One day at a time, one chapter at a time, will change your life over time.”
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