In July of 1967, the city of Detroit experienced a riot that is considered the worst riot in its history, and is considered one of the worst riots in America. Basically, the riot began because the police raided an illegal bar and since there were about 80 people involved in the raid it created a scene in the 12th Street neighborhood. As the last police car left the scene, a group of people began to loot the stores on 12th Street in protest. The police didn't do much to stop the activity at first probably because there wasn't enough police force at the scene to stop the looters. They also thought that perhaps it would calm down and end on its own. Unfortunately, it opened the door for a larger scale riot that built up to a level that the state of Michigan was unable to control the situation. The National Guard and Army were called in by the President to regain control. Five days later, 43 people were dead, and over 450 people were injured. Over 7,000 people were arrested and there were reports of police brutality and abuse of both guilty and innocent people. This riot had blindsided the police; however, research done after the riots revealed a frustration among the African Americans in the city due to poor wages, work conditions, education and housing. A riot can often start as one thing, but can be fueled by other points of dissatisfaction. Please turn to Act 19:23-32 to read about the beginning of a possible riot in Ephesus.
In yesterday's post, I explored the idea that the church began to effect the local economy not because they boycotted or protested a business but because they were simply following God. The result was that some of the church leaders were brought into the amphitheater while other believers prevented Paul from going in. There was a lot of shouting and it sounds like no one could understand or hear what anyone was saying. The phrase that has stuck out at me as I have read this chapter over and over is in verse 32 where it says, "In fact, most of them didn't even know why they were there." Yikes! To me, that is a scary statement because they were there just to join along with the commotion without even knowing what it is about.
If we as a church look closely at our culture, we could easily see similar issues. Some people lead with great charisma and some people follow. The sad thing is that some people follow without knowing why. In this particular event, the church knew they were following God and they knew why they were following God. Do we as a church know why we do what we do? Do we do things because that is the way we have always done it, or do we do things because it is what God wants us to do? Do we know why we are here? I don't want to just follow the crowd because that is what everyone else is doing, I want to have purpose in what I do. I want to be led by God and not by the crowd.
Who is leading you?