“You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods at all. Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence” (Acts 19:26-27).

My grandfather, Charles Dean, was an architect. If you’re from here and in the construction industry, the name Dean and Dean/Associates should sound familiar. Although there was no interest in me—or skill set—to follow that trade, the family history adds to my appreciation of it.

In great architecture, the details are exhausting, the vision is big and bold and the work it takes to convert the vision to a tangible expression is enormous. It can have a significant effect on a community’s economy and notoriety. So before the work begins, the question that needs to be answered is why. Why build it? When I read the above passage from Acts 19, the question raised in my mind was, “Why would someone go through the trouble of building an extravagant temple to a manmade idol?”

Artemis was arguably the most exalted of the Greek deities, the twin sister of Apollo and the daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was the goddess of the hunt, virginity, childbirth, protector of young girls, and responsible for the bringing and relieving of sickness in women.

Outside-In-1How someone could go so far as to believe such a thing is incomprehensible, but what’s even more ridiculous is that they built a monstrosity of a temple to worship this female goddess. It’s listed as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world; it was rebuilt seven times— and some say that the first construction took 160 years to complete and the second took 83 years.

I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labor of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, “Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.”- Antipater of Sidon (Ancient Greek poet and writer who lived in the 2nd century B.C., he is credited with creating the list of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”.)

Today, it’s rubble under the earth.

The Architect, the stone masons, the carpenters, the stone salesmen, the artists, the weavers, the sheetrock hangers, curtain designers, the temple priests, the guy at the gate punching the tickets, etc, are all dead. Their memory is as gone as the pillars that held it upright.

Demetrius, the silversmith and entrepreneur, he’s dead. All the Paul haters in Ephesus that were in a rage because he slandered her, their bones have decayed by now. But Artemis, the great Artemis, she lives on. She just doesn’t go by that name anymore.

She changed it to The Goddess of Self; she lives in the Kingdom of Me. Artemis was just another bad excuse to disobey God and justify what satisfies the flesh. In the real world, it’s all about the glorification of me and how to build my kingdom. I refuse with a stiff neck to make painful sacrifices to the Kingdom of God until the Kingdom of Me is satisfied—whenever that is.

Every company I’ve worked for makes the Kingdom of Me its greatest priority. It’s where the money goes—stackin’ it up. It’s where the energy goes. It’s why we hold meetings and offer incentives. The reward is now. In 30 years in the work force, never, ever, ever-—and not even once—have we discussed how the company plans to build the Kingdom of God.

Nothing has changed since the 7th century B.C. Their efforts were misdirected and served a purpose altogether perishable. Their lives a wash and their talents squandered and history repeats itself for a Goddess with a new name. All the while, the great Architect searches for employees who will build things eternal—and whose reward waits.

Shawn Dean is Regional Sales Manager for Airflo Sales, Inc., located in Ridgeland, MS. He and his wife, Laura Beth, have three children, Isabelle, Ann Mabry, and Mary Frances. They live in Madison.