Much of the New Testament is composed of letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to churches that He founded or had an important role in establishing. These letters are an insightful look at the nascent Christian church. We learn of the generosity of the Philippian church who provided for his missionary support. We also learn of shocking debauchery of sexual deviancy in the Corinthian church. The letters are a brutally honest encouragement and chastisement of how each regional church dealt with the contemporary issues that each were facing.
Are the issues that Paul confronted different from what we face today? When Paul was in Ephesus, a city renowned for its temple to the goddess Artemis, Paul’s preaching of Jesus Christ was converting many of the citizens, who stopped purchasing the figurines of the goddess. The merchants and artisans who made their living from selling these figurines were outraged and they stirred the citizens to reject Paul and his teachings, inciting a near-riot that lasted for two hours!
But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
Acts 19:34 (NLT)
A riot for two hours! The Bible later recounts how the crowd angrily dragged out two of Paul’s traveling companions. It seems not much has changed in over two thousand years! What if the Apostle Paul were writing letters to the contemporary churches in Portland or Minneapolis, sites of continual riots? What would these letters address? Black Lives Matter? The COVID-19 pandemic? The inclusion of transgender couples?
One can only wonder what Paul may have written, but one thing is certain. Paul was never reticent to confront people with the Truth of God’s Word. In all of the cities that Paul visited, he encountered those who were hostile or indifferent to hearing God’s Word. He also found a few believers and many of them became leaders of the churches in each city. The Holy Spirit used Paul to bring the key people who could be used by God to establish the churches and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
What would the Apostle Paul have written to your city to address its problems? God provides the very clear answer. The problem is our human heart. We are sinners living in a fallen world. No political leader will solve this. No political party, neither democrat or republican, will solve this. These are man’s feeble attempts to solve a spiritual problem.
We desperately need a Savior to restore our broken relationship with God, our Creator. Only when we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior will we be able to take the first steps to heal the complex problems that confront our cities.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.