About that time no little disturbance broke out concerning the Way. A man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the artisans. These he gathered together, with the workers of the same trade, and said, “Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business. You also see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost the whole of Asia this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her.”
When they heard this, they were enraged and shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” The city was filled with the confusion; and people rushed together to the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s travel companions. Paul wished to go into the crowd, but the disciples would not let him; even some officials of the province of Asia, who were friendly to him, sent him a message urging him not to venture into the theater. ~ Acts 19:23-31
The time in which Paul was living and preaching was one of enormous instability and unrest. Religious and racial groups were pitted against each other as they vied for power and economic stability.
Riots are a thing we have become all too familiar with in the last several years.
Sometimes those riots come from injustice. Sometimes the are from those who would act unjustly.
Always, they come from a place of intense passion.
From emotion that has bubbled up into a destructive path.
Passion is one of those words that might stir up differing meanings for you. You might think of intense longing or love;
But often passion brings to mind heated debate, or anger, or violence.
Passion tends to come from a place deep within ourselves: a place where stakes are high and sometimes because we feel threatened in some way. For the rioters in Ephesus, Paul and his followers threatened what they knew. Threatened their faith, and threatened even their livelihoods.
I've seen some passionate arguments in church meetings and even church social media pages: passion that seems to come when someone or some group feels threatened.
What are the things that you feel passionate about - enough that you might feel drawn into a combative position?
And what are the ways in which we are called to transform that destructive passion into one in which the only thing threatened is our sinfulness?
Passion in which love for each other is born out because of the passionate love of our God?
Holy One, lead me to have passionate love of neighbor and enemy alive. Amen