“And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul; so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them and the evil spirits went out of them.” Acts 19:11-12
Elijah McCoy was one of America's most prolific inventors in the 1870's. Although he endured the horrors of slavery, this African-American inventor found a love for locomotive steam engines. He transformed steam engines by inventing an oil lubricator, a device in variation, which is still widely used today. All his inventions became so successful that the term, "The real McCoy," was later incorporated into Standard American English to describe whether or not something or someone was truly genuine.
Being genuine is something that is difficult for most of us to do. We are bombarded with marketing concepts that tell us we need to be anything but ourselves. Every advertised product, from cars to soft drinks, is used to transform us from a unique work of God, to a trendy member of the pack. So, the continuation of the biblical passage described above, found in Acts 19:13-16 is quite powerful. Many people read this story and condemn the priest and his sons for attempting to cast out a demon, who instead, sends them running, beaten, and naked. However, let’s look at them a little differently.
Imagine for a moment, the marketing strategy of their day, let's call it, "—tell-a-neighbor." At the time, sons were groomed to go into the profession of their fathers. If your father was a silversmith, chances are, you would become a silversmith.
Since priests were revered, it was only befitting that Sceva, a priest with seven sons, would corner the market by placing a son/ priest in every neighborhood. This strategy, called franchises today, would have easily enlarged the fame and wealth of the entire family. So, in an effort not to become obsolete, Sceva, the priest, tries his hand at a new promotional campaign. "Call Sceva & Sons,! -We cast out demons and heal the sick!” A campaign designed to downplay all the hoopla surrounding that new guy named, Paul; a staunch and powerful disciple of Jesus.
Since it is relatively easy for us to simply backslide and do what we did prior to knowing Jesus, it was just as easy for the Ephesians to turn back to Sceva and his sons. After all, it was Sceva who they went to for help prior to Paul’s arrival in Ephesus! We can just imagine Sceva’s sons sitting around the kitchen table strategizing with their father, trying desperately to come up with an idea strong enough to lure the people back to them, saying:
“The news has been spreading all over town! This new guy Paul is casting out demons all over Ephesus in the Name of Jesus! The whole city is trying to get to him. In the meantime, our business/ ministry is way down. -Sons, What are we going to do about it?” “Dad, -I have an idea! Since we really don’t believe in this guy Jesus, all we have to do to cast out demons is to call on the Name of Jesus whom Paul preaches about!” “-Hmmm,... Great idea son!”
Then, they put on all their priestly garments; and, in an effort to exorcise the demon, they called him out! Imagine their horror when a genuine demon came out, and instead responded, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but, WHO are YOU?” He then leaped on them and proceeded to strip and beat each one of them.
This is a great story for all, but especially for Christians. It entreats us not to believe in the promotion of ourselves when it comes to Jesus Christ, but to believe in and promote Jesus Christ for His own sake. Self-promotion is fine, if that’s what you genuinely want to do. However, make certain that you do not portray that it is all about God when it is genuinely all about you; or, you may just find yourself on the run, beaten, and naked. L.
Study Reference: Acts 19:11-20
From: “The Real McCoy.” In The Master’s Hands II: 365 Daily Devotions For Everyday Living.
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell
photo: Aidan Photograffeuse