Religion and Money; Acts 19:21f

A very quick observation before I have to catch a train. 

When the riot starts against the gospel in Acts 19, the instigators seem to be concerned about (a) their ability to make money (b) linked, but not the same, their occupations and (c) their religion. I suspect that this is the right order because they say:

  • From idols we have our wealth (v25)
  • Our trade may come into disrepute (v27)
  • It might get so bad that Artemis will be deposed from her magnificence (v27)

It would be a little too easy to conclude however that these people are just into idol making for personal profit. I suspect however that their occupation is simply so tied up with an idol-worldview that the complaints are all of a piece. Money/job/worship simply constitutes a big part of who they are and are not easily divisible.

The thing about worldviews is that they are complex. They are the structures of thought, daily practice, daily assumptions about the world and ourselves that we live in. Of course worldviews therefore have a deep impact on our occupations, and via our occupations on our capacity to make money and live. Challenging Artemis was the same thing as challenging everything these people had and all their assumptions about the world, their identity and how to make their money.

And so it should be. The thing I find difficult is when Christians don't get the connections. When we fail to see that our view of Christ ought to unfailingly affect everything else. I believe many have a disjointed or carefully compatmentalised worldview that allows them to maintain boundaries between the God part of life and all the other parts. And therefore for the God part to have a minimal impact on the other parts rather than being the governing feature of all the other parts.

Sometimes I wonder to what degree someone with such boundaries can really be considered to be converted. You have to ask if there is no connection between the God part and all the other parts whether it is because someone only has a minimal God part. That's OK for a new believer, but I suspect is also common among people who have identified themselves with a church for many years. Then it's not OK. If pagan Ephesian idol makers were unable to separate out their pagan object of worship, their approach to their occupation and their money, how much less should we be able to separate worshipping the living God from our occupation, our money, our use of our homes, our family life and our whole identity. We have no identity outside of Christ anymore, so why do people in churches sometimes look like they are flirting with Christianity or playing religious games with God?

(For a further good comment on this check out Matt Finn's note on the previous post "Is Jesus Compelliing?)