Mob Mentality

32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. Acts 19:32

This verse describes “mob mentality” or crowd mentality succinctly.

“Yes, let’s do something about this?”
“About what?”
“I don’t know. Why are we here?”

No matter where you this is a dangerous place to be.

Recently youtube reporters have published videos of the reporters asking demonstration attenders why they were there. Often, when demonstrations are organized hastily, there’s no clear message about why they are marching. They’re all against something, so evidently there’s a good reason why they’re there…or so the argument goes.

Sometimes even the event organizers don’t have a clear understanding of why they’re there!

As I mentioned, this is a dangerous place to be. I made the mistake one time of being in the middle of a mob of rioters while I was living overseas. I quickly realized I was in the wrong place and moved out of the openness so that I did not stand out. Nothing happened but it could have turned bad quickly.

Over the next few years many of you may have an opportunity to protest or counterprotest events throughout the country. Go there knowing why you’re there and pick out quick escape routes. After things start to “turn south,” the situation can get ugly rapidly. There are thousands of Youtube videos that reveal that sad truth.

On Solid Ground

24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. Acts 19:24-31

As you read the end of this passage, it looks like the people were upset because the new Believers were worshiping other gods other than Artemis. It was probably simpler than that: money. Christians and their new belief system was threatening the lifestyles and businesses of those who sold goods and idols that were related to their gods. Now the new Believers were threatening their livelihood.

That happens no matter the issue. When advocating for school choice, the teacher’s unions get upset. Why? Their livelihoods will be affected if they have less money to work with.

As another example, on the rare occasion that Congress cuts a program out of a budget, those in that organization scream about the absolute necessity of that program. Why? Their livelihoods are being affected.

Sometimes the things you say and do run 100% contrary to the prevailing principles of the world. People will fight hard against it. If you stand on what you know to be true, you’re doing the right thing. As the Church loses more influence on the culture, you’ll find yourself in the minority more than you’d like. As long as you’re standing on the truth, though, you’re fine.

You’re in Good Hands.

Creating a Disturbance

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. Acts 19:23

When the church is doing its job by changing communities, there are “natural” consequences to it. Town leaders lose a bit of power when the church changes lives. Sometimes rabble-rousers stir up trouble just to stir it up.

As many of you know, “closed” countries are those countries in which the Gospel is not allowed to be preached or taught. Communist countries and most Muslim-dominated countries are closed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to some degree. Some are more closed than others. When the church makes a disturbance in these countries due to rapid church growth or supernatural healings, the officials do what they can to shut it down and stops its leaders. If it means beatings or imprisonment, they do it.

It may seem like I write about the Persecuted Church a lot. I do. It’s no accident. We need to do what we can to keep them in the forefront of our minds because very few people even know the persecution exists.

Pray for “underground” churches in Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Cuba. They desperately need encouragement and strength.

Driven

21 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” 22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer. Acts 19:21-22

It’s clear in texts like this that Paul was a driven man. He had passion and fire. Perhaps it was because he had to make up for lost time during his “persecute the Believers” years. The most logical reason is the most obvious one: he wanted to see Christ proclaimed in as many cities as humanly possible.

As he trained more people to lead the churches, he could go elsewhere while the churches grew. In other epistles we see where he corrected and disciplined church leaders for their actions, but he still had a passion to preach where Christ had never been proclaimed before. That would be fairly easy to do since the Church was still in its first generation.

Even though there are many places in the West where there are two or three churches on every city block, the Church is not growing. The culture seems to have overwhelmed the Church in a variety of issues.

Pray for your Pastors and church leaders. They have a daunting task of formulating strategies to reach the next generation of Believers while continuing to nurture this generation. Pray for both boldness and compassion where it’s needed.

A Simple Message in These Trying Times

19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. Acts 19:19-20

One way to significantly depart from the road you’ve been traveling on is to do what these people did. Burning those materials was a public statement of what was going on in their lives. A drachma was about a day’s wages. In today’s dollars it would be close to $3 million US dollars. It’s no wonder the word spread quickly.

So far we’ve seen the Gospel spread through open air evangelism, one on one evangelism, dreams and visions, debate in the synagogues, a man being teleported to the desert, healings, speaking in tongues, prophecies, sorcery scroll burnings, and through other means. And we’re only 2/3 through the Book of Acts.

The message is simple: God will stop at nothing to save people. Think about that as you walk through your day. Nobody in your path today is beyond God’s reach.

The Authentic Life

18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. Acts 19:18

Living a godly life matters. It mattered to Paul and the disciples. It matters to us. It matters to others.

People see. People notice. Most of the time they won’t say anything, but they’re watching. They want the truth. They’ve been lied to all their lives. They’re looking for authenticity in someone, something. They’re not looking for perfection, just an authentic person.

Are we living it? Are we shining that light for all to see?

And what about those times when no one else sees except for your spouse and family?

Your spouse wants you to live a godly life.

Your kids – though they will never say it while they’re still at home – want desperately for you to live a godly life. They need that compassionate role model.

Lift Jesus Higher

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Acts 19:17

It’s not often that you read about Jesus being held in high honor among non-Believers. That honor lasts as long as governing officials don’t find out about it. People obviously saw a power greater than the power of evil.

It’s happening all over the world even as I write this. We may not see it in the West, but it’s happening. It goes something like this.

  1. Something miraculous happens.
  2. Word gets out.
  3. People flock to see what’s happening.
  4. People then ask questions.
  5. Believers explain what’s happening.
  6. Government officials find out about it.
  7. Believers may now be in prison for embarrassing the officials.
  8. What comes next is crucial: the onlookers (mostly Unbelievers) question why the government would beat and throw such people in prison.
  9. The onlookers are not satisfied until they find out the truth.

The countries may vary and some of the details change a bit, but it’s a cycle that few in the West have ever heard about or witnessed firsthand.

We still have the opportunity to “lift Jesus higher” wherever we are.

  • how we drive
  • how we treat wait staff
  • how we complain (or don’t)
  • how we treat strangers

These are not earth-shattering or miraculous activities. Anything you can do to get people asking you, “I want what you have; how do I get it?” is worth the time and effort to do.

With Urgency

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. Acts 19:13-16

People (well-meaning Christians) often get the impression that evil spirits are weak and powerless. Granted, compared to the power of Christ those spirits are weak and powerless but without Christ’s power, they are not to be trifled with. This is a perfect example of what they can do.

This is also a vivid reminder of why Believers should never dabble into ouija boards, tarot cards, seances, black magic, and fortune-telling. When a Believer begins testing the waters of that kind of darkness, he is asking for serious trouble. It’s a curiosity that is never satisfied, and often ends in deep pain and torment. The devil is never satisfied with just a little bit of a person’s soul.

Perhaps you or someone you know has started to dabble in these extra-biblical practices. Do whatever it takes to get them out. Pray hard that they will return to the Light. The power of Christ is mightier than any of these powers.

With Blessings Come Responsibilities

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Acts 19:11-12

With so much blessing also came responsibility and opportunities to become prideful.

What does pride look like in this kind of situation? Well, we see it all over the television airwaves, that some evangelist has some supernatural power that everyone else wants. Then he sends the offering plate around after it’s been “proven” that he has that ability. Pride. Conceit. Being adored and followed by the masses because you’re such a “servant” of God.

Of course we know that in some of Paul’s other teaching, the Lord put a “thorn in his flesh” to keep him from becoming proud (2 Corinthians 12). He also made Paul earn his own living so he wouldn’t be a burden on others.

Just remember that with great blessing comes great responsibility. This not only applies to His supernatural giftings, but to everyday blessings as well.