Hands up anyone who wants this whole Covid-19 thing just to end, be over, be gone? Time is moving on, people are getting twitchy, the novelty has well and truly worn off and disillusionment has taken its place. The good news we are so desperate for seems to be undone in a moment with another grim statistic and so the words of Romans 8 seem more relevant than ever, ‘the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains…’ Today we give voice to our groaning and listen for God’s response.
So he’s made it, albeit that its been quite a journey. Paul has reached his final destination. His luggage is worn, his passport over-flowing with stamps and visas and the experiences of the past 20 years have taught him to greet every jobs-worth official and border guard with patience and a wry smile. Now one of the great minds of the ancient world who is about to face one final test, the highest court. Yet we find a man who is content, composed: for Paul has nothing to lose & nothing to prove.
As we draw towards the conclusion of our journey with Peter and now Paul, through this epic book, Paul will, once again, recount the story of faith which has determined his life.
The audience may have changed (Paul speaks now to kings and political rulers rather than Jewish ones), but the story and strength of his witness doesn’t dwindle; as it is quite large in him, the seam of faith running through the strata of his life.
I have this principle to do with Christian faith which goes like this: ‘If Christian faith is true, then it can’t be true for some things, it must be true for all things. And if it is true for all things then it must impact how to parent children, how political influence should be expressed and even for economic policy.’ Todays passage is an example of how faith in God has a direct impact on economics. We are probably familiar with the idea of the market place, of profit and loss, of ‘win-win’ and the ‘gig economy.’ So what on earth does it mean to apply Christian faith to this and the world of economics.
In today’s story from Acts 19 Paul is in Ephesus—where the god Artemis is worshipped. (Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and twin of Apollo). Paul’s sharing of faith did not simply have religious implications but, as we shall see, meant that an economic bombshell was detonated as well.