Recently, while researching a bit on ancient Greek temples, I came across an interesting story of the ‘big blow up’ which developed in Ephesus in 57 A.D. and it made me realise that nothing really changes completely. This story is interestingly also recorded in the Bible in the book of Acts. In this story we learn of the temple of goddess Artemis (also known by some as goddess Diana) which was a Grecian magnificence and was known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
There was at that time a silversmith who employed craftsmen to manufacture silver shrines of the Greek goddess Diana. His name was Demetrius and his ground was shaken when one of the first few disciples of Jesus, St. Paul gave him a hard time when he visited the city of Ephesus in 57 A.D. With this disciple of Jesus going about telling all about real worship in spirit, Demetrius felt shaken regarding his business which brought him and many other business proprietors like him a lot of income. When the people there got to learn from Paul that handmade gods were not gods at all, the volume of the sales of these businessmen came crashing down. They were worried that, “There is the danger, then, that this business of ours will get a bad name. Not only that, but there is also the danger that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will come to mean nothing and that her greatness will be destroyed – the goddess worshipped by everyone in Asia and in all the world!” Acts 19:27
The city was soon filled with uncertainty. To think of it, confusion prevailed in the old world as it is at its most potent menace today. In our modern space we certainly have many flyovers around us but hardly any courage to wear wings to overcome stubborn beliefs. Our world today like that of the old is a business centre. This business does not only go on in big conglomerate houses but also in human relations. Some call it the ‘Way of the World’; and if we are bold enough to step out of such business deals then the human race very characteristically label us a loser in the deal of human affairs. The businessmen of the world, with their crafty ways lift up mundane images of clay and place them on the altar of our hearts for worship and if we refuse such reverence in products or relations they begin to chatter; chattering being their usual habit and pastime activity. In fact most of them are lost themselves, unable to understand what is happening around them or why they are present where they are. “Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another – everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there.”Acts 19:32.
So many people can be seen crowding fashion, human company and places where they really don’t want to be; mainly because they are worried of ‘What will the world say?’ And life continues to offer us many such gatherings of worldly glittery hubs. The choice is always open: to stay with the world and join the confused crowds or be the daredevil to step out of conventions. As Paul told the Greeks that they needed to be careful with all that they had understood and not succumb to the pressures of the ignorant and cunning world. “I know full well that after I leave you, false teachers, like vicious wolves, will appear among you, not sparing the flock.” Acts 20: 29
If we do not hold on to the right word inside of us, the wrong word of the superficial, like a wolf, will not hesitate to convince us that the way of the world is right. At this juncture, a modern day story comes to my mind. Actually it’s a story for children with a lesson for adults. The story urges the reader to beware of hypocrites. It has a very interesting character of a fox who while searching for food gets trapped and in his struggle to set himself free, losses his tail. Now he is worried about everybody laughing at him and feels so very sad that he even contemplates suicide. But then he soon thinks of another plan to survive. He goes about persuading all the foxes to part with their tails telling them that the tails are a nuisance, heavy and tiresome. Soon however, to his bad luck, one cleaver fox catches his trickery and asks, “Sir, would you have said the same about our tails if you had had one of yours?
The worldly wise can very easily distort the truth and capture a following. And so we need to be on guard to not get fooled into the way of the world. “Some of you yourselves will distort the truth in order to draw a following. Watch out.” Acts 20:30.
So like then or now, we either live in the prison of hypocrisy and fear, or collect guts to get out of it and face public ridicule. We either choose between public opinion or the opinion of the Silent Whisper.