Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Where's the fire?

<idle musing>
I was talking to Ryan, our son, the other day and one of the topics that came up was the Ephesians in Acts 19, where they burn their sorcery scrolls. The text says that the value was around 50,000 drachmas, but what does that mean to the average reader? Not much. So, to help Ryan get a better idea of what the value was, I decided to make a few assumptions and calculate the value in dollars, so here we go...

The average income in the U.S. right now is around $30,000.00 per year. That works out to about $15.00 per hour. Assuming that a person works 8 hours per day, that means they make about $120.00 per day, before taxes. The average income for a day worker in New Testament times was a drachma. So, let's extrapolate and get an approximate market value for the scrolls. $120.00 x 50,000 = $6,000,000.00! Yep, that is the correct number of zeroes. $6 million! Don't like that number? Think that I should allow for 30% in taxes? OK, but that still comes to $4.2 million!

And, this wasn't any mega-church, either. Let's suppose that there were 120 members, a very large church for the time. That means that each person burned $50,000 worth of books! No wonder “the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” These people put their money where their mouth was—almost 2 years' worth of wages, up in smoke! How many people in today's church would be willing to do that? More importantly, would I be willing to do it?

Hmmm, let's bring that a bit closer to home. I currently have a little over 1,000 books (I have been cutting down my library for several years now), and I would estimate that the value per volume is around $18.00—some are worth much more, some much less. That means my library is only worth $18,000, at most $20,000. Better add some more stuff on the pile. My bike is worth about $1800; Debbie's is worth about $800; our car is worth less than $1,000. The lawn tractor is worth about $300. And I can't forget the trailer for the bike, $300.00; and the Yakima™ rack is worth a couple of hundred. That still doesn't even bring me to half what they got rid of. I'm running out of stuff to throw on the fire...

You get the idea? They got rid of anything that stood between them and God. It wasn't the cost that mattered, it was whether it got in the way of serving God with their whole hearts.
</idle musing>

1 comment:

Jonathan Erdman said...

Thanks, James.

Good post.