#carmelprays – Acts 19:21-41
Opening Song: You Are God Alone
Read Scripture: Acts 19:21-41
Questions to Ask Ourselves
We worry that the church is under the influence of culture instead of the other way around. But in an economically developed and religiously free society like Singapore, it is not that the church lacks a voice. In fact, there are Christian voices everywhere, and they can oftentimes be the loudest. The voice of the Christian as an individual and as a united body of Christ can have great power. But how are we using this voice?
Most of the assembly gathered against Paul and his traveling companions did not even know why they were there (v32). But when they realized Alexander was a Jew, they shouted in unison for two hours: “great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (v34). In the same way, when we gather as a church to stand for or against something (whether non-Christians or other Christians), do we really understand what is going on? Or are we only engaging in groupthink? Are we jumping on the bandwagon because everyone else is already on it, and dissenting a people/policy/perspective only they are different from us and what we are used to?
The Church may be the body of Christ, but we are also susceptible to the folly and fallenness of human ways. So when we as a church protest or promote, what are we really saying? How are we really living? Where are our hearts at? Are we following the crowds, drawn and entertained by noise and the loudest voices, or are we being led by the Holy Spirit? What exactly do people outside of the church see from us? We may think we are asserting one thing, and pushing one message, but others hear not the words, only our jarring loudness and the reality of our actions.
This whole drama in Ephesus played out because Demetrius, the silversmith, felt his business was threatened by Paul’s evangelizing. His sole concern was his income and the future of his trade, but he managed to turn the workmen, and subsequently the rest of the city, against Paul by stirring up their religious fervor (v24-28).
Likewise, how often do we say we are doing something for God, or because God has called us to do so, when we are only using God as an excuse to justify our choices and activities? How often are we actually motivated by our own agenda, but are using God’s name as a cover? We may be driven by fortune, fame, family, fears – but we go out into the world claiming the banner and will of God.
The heart is deceitful…And the most dangerous of all is when we deceive ourselves. So whenever we declare something in the name of God, whether personally or corporately, let us examine our hearts in humble submission to the Spirit.
This is a noisy world where many do not know Christ. Let us not risk drowning out that still small voice of God – in us, and in the world – with more noise.
Pray in Response
Lord, thank You for reaching out to reveal Your truth to us. Thank You for the patience and grace You have shown us time and time again in our lives. We pray that we will not take the blessings You bestow on us for granted. We pray for a humble and grateful heart, and a reverent and submissive spirit to Your will and mission. More of You, less of us we pray. Guide and correct us when we go astray. That Your will may truly be done on earth in our trust and obedience. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Response Song: Spirit Lead Me
By Lim Shi