An often unforeseen result of preaching a Gospel which demands repentance is that it is certain to cause discomfort to our current way of living. We need to understand that repentance is the first domino to fall, but it isn’t the last. When either an individual or a society repent, we need to understand that repentance is only the first tremors of the earthquake and that there is more shaking to be done down the line! Simply put, when a man repents of his sinful and idolatrous ways and confesses his faith in the One True God, and in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, he is turning his back on one way of living, and embracing an entirely new way of living. This is as much as saying repentance has consequences.
One biblical example of what I’m referring to is the fellow named Demetrius, an Ephesian, that we are told about in Acts 19. Demetrius was a silversmith (Acts 19:24) and by all accounts a pretty good one; and also, it would seem, rather a mover and shaker in the whole silversmithing business. His specialty was making silver shrines of the goddess Diana. As Paul was lingering in Ephesus (preparing for his return to Jerusalem), and as a result of other preachers who had come through that city, a vibrant church was beginning. These believers, as a result of their repentance, were forsaking the worship of the false goddess Diana.
And therefore the silversmiths’ stock market numbers were doing a nosedive! Demetrius, like any savvy businessman, decided he needed to generate some publicity; because any publicity is good publicity, right?! He gathered the whole guild together for a pep rally and after pointing out that their industry brought in “no small gain” he went into stump speech mode: “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 (Act 19:25-27).”
Notice two things in this text. One, Paul was destroying the false gods by preaching the Gospel of the One True God. Secondly, the industry built on the back of idol worship was therefore going to crumble, and along with it, Demetrius’ and the other silversmiths’ livelihood. It should be pointed out that his god was not really Diana…his god of choice was money, wealth, financial stability, and a nice peaceful retirement. This was all jeopardized by the success of the Gospel bringing the Gentiles to repentance!
This teaches us that when we repent we also need to be ready for the consequences of our repentance. When the church repents of her coldness and apostasy, it is likely that many of our Pastors and leaders will need to find work elsewhere, simply because they do not meet the qualifications for a biblical elder. We all know that the world is in desperate need of a great repentance; but so is the Church. As we know, judgement ought to begin in God’s house.
The Church needs to repent of many of her sins and apostasies and coldness of heart towards God and His Word; and if we repent, we should also walk with the expectancy that this world will soon see a great movement of grace and many will be convicted of their sinfulness, idolatry and godlessness. An unforeseen consequence of this is that this will likely mean that many folks in Hollywood will actually have to get a respectable job. Furthermore, we shouldn’t be surprised when those who remain unrepentant will likely form a protest rally like Demetrius.
True repentance will be willing to endure the consequences, and not try to pander to the silversmiths. When the Gospel is embraced, it will mean that the primary propagators of idolatry (and all the merchandise and commerce connected with it) will be in need of a job. So, true Gospel repentance will change the whole structure of our economy.
For this we must be ready. Ready to show compassion and pity on and generosity to those who once made their profit building shrines for Diana. And in our personal lives, we need to understand that repentance will have consequences, and likely many of those consequences will bring some discomfort. Because at its root, repentance means turning from things I once cherished, and now considering them dung.
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