Paul continues to encourage the church in Ephesus to avoid the pagan practices of the world. This city was full of pagan worship, especially in regard to the goddess Artemis or Diana. The great temple was in the middle of the city, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Notice here that God is not upset at the sinner, but at the one who might, through deception, try to hurt those who are growing in their faith. These are the people who may have been mocking the new believers or trying to distract them into other types of worship. They had empty words, a faith that would leave people with nothing. The souvenir salesmen in Ephesus were furious because the Christian revival was cutting into their business. One can imagine that they began to come up with elaborate schemes to get the people back to Diana’s temple and to investing in worthless trinkets. These were empty words which drew people away to destruction and selfish gain for those hawking their goods. These were the ones who face the wrath of God; those who are willing to allow their own selfishness to bring about the fall of others.
Those who intentionally deceive God’s innocent children make God angry.
When we think about the salesmen of Ephesus we may nod our heads in agreement. Of course, that kind of behavior is extremely bad and they were bad people. The problem is that some of this behavior may be happening, even today, but maybe not quite as blatant. Whenever we sell someone on cheap Christianity, we are in danger of leading them down the wrong path, and of angering God.
It’s far too easy to tell people on a Christianity that doesn’t cost you very much. It seems that regular church attendance for discipleship isn’t that important anymore. Nor is tithing. Nor is helping other people come to Christ. Five minutes or less in prayer and devotions will cover you — no problem. Engaging in the practices of the world won’t be a stumbling block to you or to other vulnerable individuals!
Why are we believing these lies? Because we live in an instant and disposable world that doesn’t have high expectations for followers of Christ. And, unfortunately we are believing the lies and going astray, and this makes God angry. But it’s those who are perpetuating the lies that are frustrating God. Those in spiritual leadership in the church, both lay and clergy, need to be held accountable for the ways in which they are discipling others. There is a price to pay for serious discipleship; we are to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Empty words that sound easy will lead us nowhere.
Lord, the challenge to follow you faithfully remains before us day after day. Help us to follow you on this Lenten journey, living a life of sacrifice for your sake. Amen.
This post was written by Rev Carla Sunburg. You can find her original post here: reflectingtheimage.blogspot.com/2018/02/what-makes-god-angry.html