A couple weeks ago my wife and I were on holiday and we did a day trip to the ancient city of Ephesus. We walked the streets where Paul and Timothy would have preached. We stood in the amphitheater where Paul probably spoke at times. One thing that you can’t help but notice in these ancient cities is the amount of shrines and temples to pagan gods that they had. Some big and some small, but all for the same purpose, worshipping a pagan false idol.
If you remember from Acts 19, Demetrius a silversmith of the shrines for Artemis began an uproar that lead to a riot. The riot continued and people gathered in the court and for 2 hours they shouted “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
Ephesus was the place of one of the biggest temples to Artemis, it’s actually one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. So what does it look like now? A temple that once housed thousands of worshippers on a daily basis. A city in its shadow that believed it was safe because the goddess looked over them. What happened?
Well this once prominent temple is now a pile of rubble. Stones lay strewn in a field, it’s marked by a tiny road sign that you could easily miss and there remains one pillar standing (it’s actually just been put together to help visitors imagine the hight of the original temple).
Such a prominent pagan temple, reduced to nothing and forgotten by most of the world, why? Because you can build, even the most grandiose things, but all things temporary will crumble. What was once a temple is nothing more than a pile of stones. Temporary trimmings paying homage to a fake god that didn’t last very long.
As I stood underneath that pillar and imagined what it would have originally looked like I remembered two things;
1. That the things of this world are temporary and will pass away (1 Cor. 7:31, etc.)
2. That nothing will defeat the Church (Matt. 16:18, etc.)
There will always be things that are built in opposition to the gospel. There will always be people, institutions and religions who set themselves against God and His people. It may be frightening at times, it may feel like the local church is insignificant and weak, it may even seem that there is no chance that Christianity can survive at some points.
But the truth is that all attempts to rob people of the knowledge of Jesus, all brick and mortar will fall and all the voices that mock Christ and His people will one day be silenced.
Everything that is build against God has the same ending, it is futile and it will fail. Investing time and energy in something that you know will ultimately fail and be reduced to crumble is pointless.
Like the temple of Artemis, you can build your structure (physical or not) but it will fail. God is the only one who has always been and will always be. Remember that as your pick up a stone to build your next idol.