What have genuine fake watches to do with the Apostle Paul?
That’s how I started my message this morning. Having just got back from Europe I’m focussing on three great cities that were visited by the Apostle Paul and which Robyn and I also visited on our journeys. See last week’s post on Athens.
Today I talked about Ephesus, a great city that is currently situated just inland from Kusadasi on the coast of Turkey. One of the features of Turkey for us was the high levels of salesmanship that existed: Or to be more precise, being bombarded by market-sellers from every angle, including those who were trying to sell genuine fake watches.
A couple of thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul experienced the same sort of aggressive salesmanship from a group of tradesmen who made gadgets out of silver to support the worship of the great goddess Artemis, the supreme deity at Ephesus at the time.
The problem with these silver merchants was that while they were talking about Artemis as though she was very important to them, what really worried them was that if people started following this Jesus that Paul was promoting and stopped worshipping Artemis, they would also stop buying Artemis merchandise and their livelihood would be threatened.
I call it genuine fake religion when people talk as if they’re on speaking terms with God, but are really only interested in what they can get out of their religion in terms of financial reward or even a well-polished ego. It’s pretty easy to use religious language to give people the impression that you’re that little better than others … a little more spiritual … a better Christan. It makes the person who’s doing it feel good and makes the other person feel a little worse.
I’ve got a feeling that God’s not interested in genuine fake religion, but needs a whole lot more honesty, both in the way we interact with him and the way we interact with each other.