Ephesus was a happening city in Asia minor. There Paul started what we could call a mega church: A successful church with significant influence. Roman society was fairly pluralistic, and as such rioting was a serious offense. Should there be a riot Rome would come in with an iron hand. Why is this all important?
Study your culture
We should be aware of the why’s and how’s of our own culture. This is important to best figure out how to love your neighbor as yourself. In doing a study in the life of Paul we see Paul expertly dealt with each culture he was in. Yes, cities have different cultures. Try wearing a Tigers jersey in Yankee stadium and you will see what I mean.
People in Ephesus responded quickly to the Gospel, but those who did not caused a riot. Spreading the Gospel was not an easy feat in Paul’s day, just as it is a challenge in ours. In what is foolishly called the “pre-scientific” era, people were still incredible intelligent and insightful. Read Acts 19 through 20 to gain a picture of Ephesus.
Ephesus had the dream team: Paul, Timothy, John, and even Jesus. All of those poured their life into Ephesus. Yet, they became a mess (1 Timothy), struggled with hospitality (2 John), false teachers (3 John), and lost their first love (Revelation). Why is this significant? Struggling in our pursuit of following Jesus is not always a resource problem. It is often learning to lead the person who looks at you in the mirror every morning. It also shows that well established churches struggle too. But the dream team did not give up on Ephesus
Church is really your call. People make up the church. When each of us chooses to love God and neighbor as the Bible commands, churches will be a healthy mess. But, if we choose to major on minors, things get messy really fast. We know more about Ephesus than any church in the New Testament. The big picture is they were people like you and me. We shouldn’t be afraid of messes. It’s part of a thing called life. How we choose to conduct ourselves determines how healthy a church will be. Culture, leadership, etc have an impact, but the end of the day it is our actions and choices.
Journaling is a good tool to process what we are learning and going through. It is not about being right as much as processing. (Remember, we’ll be perfect when we see Jesus face to face. Until then, working towards being like Jesus is the goal!) Take time to journal your answers or ponder them: