Saturday, November 18, 2006the mammon parade...
"And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks." (Acts 16:16-24)
"After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre." (Acts 19:21-29)
Both these passages in Scripture have the same theme: M-O-N-E-Y! In both cases, God's people got in trouble because the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ threatened the cash flow of the wicked. And wherever the Gospel is preached, this invariably happens. Why? Because the Truth is free, and it sets people free. From Romanism to Hinduism, and every false religion in between: there is a whole lot of money to be made! Whether it be for idols or indulgences, false teachings can almost always be found out by looking at the price tag.
Today, like the apostles of old, my pastor and I picked up our Gospel signs and headed to a parade devoted to the most popular false god in the West: Mammon. What parade is this you ask?
The "Santa Clause Parade".
We walked several yards ahead of the parade, showing thousands of people (many of them young children) our Gospel signs which had the following verses on them: John 3:16, John 3:36 and the first part of 1 Timothy 1:15. For the most part, we were received with a good measure of respect. Many children asked their parents what was written on our signs, and many parents actually read the Scriptures to their children. Praise God!
The other blessing of our evangelistic effort was the sheer number of people who read the signs. There were thousands and thousands of families lined up on over 4 kilometers of road, all of them, at some point, having their eyes on verses from the Bible. Surely, some of these souls are God's elect...
Sadly though, our evangelistic effort wasn't only blessing. There was a few instances of persecution along the way. Most of our adversaries hated the fact that we were messing their commercialistic festival by bringing the Word of God. There is a whole lot more money to be made with Santa than with Jesus, that's for sure! I recall one of the organizers of the parade walking up to me, and in a very unimpressed tone, saying:
"What do you wish to accomplish by all this?"
"My hope is to remind these people that the greatest and most important gift in the world cannot be found in any shopping mall," I answered.
She had no reply. Other than that, there was the usual "you're stupid", "go home" and "you bleep-bleep-bleep", but thankfully, especially when one considers that there were many children around, these were few and far between.
Now I have to say... I'm pretty weary and tired. This week has been a pretty rough one, and all this work at the end of it really drained me down to nothing. Friday nights are pretty hard on me, emotionally. The hatred and continual mockery takes it's toll. So when I am called to pull a "double shift" (so to speak), well, it's rough. I covet your prayers, dear saints.
Have a great Lord's Day,