There's a lot packed into the 41 verses of chapter 19. But one thing that stands out to me is the amazing impact Christianity was having on the culture of the day. It was spreading rapidly. It was changing lives. It was getting the attention of the religious elite and the political power base. Ordinary people were coming to Christ and doing extraordinary things. The Holy Spirit was coming into the lives of people and radically reforming their behavior. The message of Jesus Christ was spreading rapidly. The name of Jesus Christ was becoming associated with the miraculous. So much so, that the seven sons of Sceva (sounds like an alternative rock band) tried to use the name of Jesus to cast out a demon. The only problem was that they knew the name, but not Savior behind the name.
During the early days of the church, Christianity was simply known as The Way. It was probably a term coined by the followers of Christ themselves and was used to reflect the fact that following Christ was not only the way of salvation, but it was to be a radically new way of life. Jesus Himself had claimed, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).
The way of Jesus was anything but ordinary. It was a radical path that produced remarkable changes. And you see them all throughout this chapter. In verses 18-19 you see believers bringing their occult books containing magic spells and incantations to be burned. They destroyed thousands of dollars worth of books representing their former way of life. Life in Christ was bringing a new way of living.
In verses 23- 41, we see that The Way was causing "no small disturbance" to the community. So many lives were being changed that the sale of household idols had plummeted, leaving the craftsmen who made them in an uproar. Because of the teaching of Paul, people had not only changed their way of life by accepting Christ, they had changed their way of thinking. They were now saying, "...that gods made with hands are no gods at all." The way of Jesus Christ had led to a radically new way of living.
Way Out of Whack
Something is missing today. We still preach and teach that Jesus is the way, but we don't seem to be seeing the same radical change in behavior in the lives of His followers. We don't seem to see the church having the same radical impact on the culture that it did in Luke's day. The Way doesn't seem to be making "no small disturbance." It has become less a way of life, than a way of believing. It has become just another belief system. Our way seems no different than any other way. There appears to be no power, passion, commitment, or radical life transformation associated with our way. Like the seven sons of Sceva, could we be quilty of speaking the name of Christ, but lacking a real relationship with Him? Do we talk about the way, but lack intimacy with the One who is the way?
Jesus is still the way. He still has the power to transform lives in a radical way. He still has the power to impact culture in a revolutionary way. He still expects His people to live in such a way that we create "no small disturbance." Our way of life should get peoples' attention. Our way of thinking should stand out. Our way of salvation should be attractive to all those around us, because it really works!
Father, make me radical in the way I live my life. Make the way I speak reflect Your ways. Make my thoughts align with the way You think. Let my ways Your ways. So that the Way of Christ might make a radical difference in the world today. Amen