19:35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: “Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 36 Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.
A singular voice of reason from among their own and the riot was over. The logic was sound and irrefutable. The temple was still in place and no one had made any attempt to destroy it. If anyone had any issues there was a court system and process in place for dealing with them. It's amazing to me how easily passion can overtake reason.
When the city clerk spoke there is one thing he said that is worthy of some thought and application. He said everyone knows that Ephesus is the guardian of the Great goddess Diana. Doesn't that seem odd? If she is so great why does she need protection? Shouldn't she be guarding them?
Before we get too judgemental shouldn't we take a closer look at ourselves? Are we not in danger of the same thinking? I am not sure how many times I have heard the phrase "defend the church". We justify "correcting" people in order to "defend the church". Are we the guardians of the church? Is that a job God gave us? And if it is, what does it mean?
First of all what it does not mean is that God needs our protection. That makes us superior to Him which in the case of idolatry is true. Humans are superior to stone and silver images of mythical creatures. However in the case of Christianity we are not superior to God and He does not need our protection. In the Old Testament God had Israel build a temple, a model of the heavenly sanctuary. The innermost room called the Most Holy Place was representative of God's throne room and the one piece of furniture known as the Ark of the Covenant or the Ark of His Testimony represented His throne. It was to be regarded as sacred in the sense no one but the high priest was to enter that room and absolutely no one was to touch the ark.
Many years later during a war that Israel lost, the Philistine army captured the ark and took it home. It was symbolic to them not only of defeating Israel but a sign that their gods were superior to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To affirm this truth they placed the ark in their own temple in front of Dagon their god. The next morning Dagon was lying face first on the ground. The Philistines propped him back up. The next morning he was face down on the ground again and broken into pieces. The God of heaven, the only God in all the universe who created everything does not need our protection, we need His. We are not His guardians, He is ours.
"The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake.
Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death You are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Who protects who?
Must we defend the church? Well what is the church? Is it not the people who believe in the Great Shepherd? And if He has called us as His under shepherds what are we defending on His behalf? Certainly not Him and certainly not buildings and systems.
Jesus stepped down from His heavenly throne. He set aside His Divinity and became one of us. When He was here He set the example of what it means to defend the church. Wherever those in positions of power exploited that power to oppress the weak He defended them. Whether it was the healthy oppressing the sick or the rich exploiting the poor or the religious condemning the sinners Jesus was there to protect, to uplift, to restore, and to call out the oppressors. He came to "set the captives free."
Do you want to defend the church? Awesome! Follow His example.
"Woman where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you. Go and leave this life of sin" - Jesus