Have you ever noticed that someone who has a positive message may get a negative reaction? Think about it for a moment. Someone shares how their life was changed for the positive. They stopped drinking or doing drugs, maybe their marriage was healed and restored or possibly they were greedy and now are generous. However, no matter how positive and inspiring their message may be, their one “fault” is this….Jesus.
Let me clarify. In no way is Jesus a negative “fault”. In fact, when you look at many lives throughout the world and hear their stories, you realize that Jesus was the only One who could have changed them. They could not do this on their own, they may never have sought counseling, but their lives changed regardless.
In Acts 19, we see an example of a positive message with negative results. Paul had traveled to Ephesus, the trading capital of it’s day. There was also a strong belief system there as well.
In Ephesus, there was the temple of Artemis. From what I have read, this became one of the “7 Wonders of the World”. There people worshiped the Greek goddess who protected children and virgins. Legend states that she was the twin of Apollo who was the protector of young boys. The people of Ephesus truly believed in this goddess who would protect the young girls who didn’t want to be married and stay a virgin.
Although a lot of people believed in this goddess, there were many who wanted to profit from this system of beliefs. They made decorative idols, told myths about how the idols came to be and were able to convince people that it is truth. This was where Paul decided to take the positive message of Jesus Christ.
While Paul was there, he came across a number of disciples who didn’t have the right theology. They had heard of Jesus and repented of their sins, but when they heard Paul teach, they questioned him. Paul asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Here was their answer, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Knowing how their thought process was, Paul then asks, “Then what baptism did you receive?” Paul understood that because they believed in Jesus, they also had been baptized. They responded to Paul that they had received John the Baptist, baptism. Paul then places his hands on them and the Holy Spirit enters their lives with immediate changes. These changes were so sudden that people were amazed at what they were doing.
Paul had some obstacles during his two year stay. There were people who refused to believe. Paul had been preaching in the synagogues telling everyone about Jesus. This means that other religions, besides the temple of Artemis had been allowed. Everyone had lived on their own, believing what they wanted not caring they were different. Now here comes Paul preaching a message of hope and healing. However, this message also was convicting. Paul preached Jesus was the only Way.
During his time in Ephesus, many Jews and Gentiles came to know and accept Jesus as their Savior. They would take their idols and any other paraphernalia and destroy them publicly. What did this mean to Ephesus, business started to lose money. The people who created the idols lost income. It was enough income that a riot started because of it.
During the uproar, many people marched with those who started it but “most of the people did not even know why they were there.” Interesting, isn’t it? There was a large amount of people protesting against the message of Christ and yet most of them didn’t understand why they were even there. They just got caught up in the moment and because a lot of people said they were marching for the right cause they believed it.
This is what is happening in the United States today. We have many religions that worship different gods. Many people go to church out of obligation rather than belief. However, when you teach that Jesus is the only Way, people get bent out of shape. They start small at first, debating you, arguing their points. However, when people start to believe in Jesus, these same protesters go public. They start saying how their life choices are “natural”, how they are being attacked by Jesus followers and most of all, blame Christians for the failing economy.
If a country’s economy is based on sinful practices, when people start to follow Jesus, they stop supporting those same businesses. They start by giving to others in need, helping others get back on their feet. They start serving others, learning about Jesus and sharing what they learned. This causes that sin based economy to suffer great losses.
Conversely, if the country’s economy is based on Godly beliefs and practices, the economy will thrive and continue until the people of that country disobey God and stop doing what they had been called to do. This is what holds true of us today. If you ask the average Christian what they believe, they can’t explain it into words. They debate using others teachings, which can be selective and incorrect, rather than being able to go to the Word of God and show why they believe what they believe.
The message we have been given is positive and helps people change their lives for the better. It changes individuals positively, which changes families positively, which changes businesses positively. This in effect can change the country positively as well. The only problem is that those who are the belief minority can and have been so convincing that people are following them, not knowing why they are following them.
As Christians, we need to start helping to change people’s lives in a positive way. We also need to stand up publicly and share what God is doing in our lives. Christianity is not a religion nor is it a private belief system. Jesus didn’t die privately, He died publicly. Jesus asks us to stand in the gap, publicly, and lovingly share His positive message with the world.
Jesus wants to change the world, but with His positive message, don’t be surprised with the negative results the world has toward His message. Share in a loving way and let Him handle the negative.
God bless and encourage someone today.