Friday, September 2, 2011
Trust and Believe
I have had many friends that were missionaries serving all over the world. When I have heard their stories, one common thread was that often times the Christians they are serving still follow a lot of the cultural norms even though it is clear in the Bible that they are not to do those things. For example, it would not be unusual to see a person worship in church but go and make a sacrifice later in the week to the god who they believe sends rain. I saw this first hand while I was in Zambia. We prayed over many people who believed they were following Christ, but yet they still turned to the witch doctor when they needed help. For some, they are scared to stop going to the witch doctor because they are threatened by him. For others, it is as if there is an insurance policy by going to the witch doctor (and strong cultural pressure as well) after praying to God. When reading through Acts 19, we see that there was a history of witchcraft in Ephesus as well and circumstances made them face their cultural beliefs. Please turn to Acts 19:11-20.
These verses give us a little understanding of the culture in Ephesus. The first thing that I noticed is that Paul had been given gifts by God to perform miracles. And we can assume that many people were affected by these miracles; however, it is when the sons of Sceva enter the scene that we see a cultural shift. All of a sudden, it is if the people realized that using the Name of Jesus was not an incantation of some sort. Remember, our God is so powerful that when we believe and speak the Name of Jesus there is power. A new reverence came over the people in Ephesus and many people began to understand the difference between God's never ending power and their use of sorcery. This caused them to turn away from their witchcraft and incantations and believe in the most and only powerful and holy God.
It makes me wonder about myself and my culture. What am I doing that seems "normal" but is going against what God wants in my life? Where am I trusting and believing in something else rather than God? Little by little, God gently reveals to me where I need to change and trust in Him. Those false beliefs can then be thrown away just as the Ephesians threw their expensive books of sorcery into the fire.
Are you willing to throw away what gives you comfort in order to trust and believe God?