Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.
And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.
This passage simply amazes me.
How would the newspapers describe such an event today?
I'm sure most of them would be beside themselves with glee, as if they had just been given the power to create an uprising against Christianity.
The headlines would say things like, "Religious Fanatics Burn Books" And "Analysis: Christians Tend To Be Anti-Intellectuals" And "Christians Bring Civilization To The Brink".
Of course, some reporters would be scornful. "Perhaps the book burnings go to show that human beings fear what they do not understand, and these Christians do not understand the power knowledge gives to the educated."
Others would frame their disgust in socio-economic terms: "To most experts it is clear the Christians are attempting to keep people uneducated so it can collect more in the offering plate."
Needless to say there would be a lot of theater going on, and -make no mistake- theater is all the world has going on.
Of course, nearly all reporters let on like there are deep, inner concerns brewing inside their articles, but this is a lie. If anything is going on under the surface at all, it is the secret envy the world has against those who devote their lives to Christ. This is a secret they feel they must hide from all eyes -even their own.
To the world, radical-sounding headlines are necessary to distract from the actions of the Church which -unlike the actions of the world- are actually radical.
Better to enter life without your books,
Than to be thrown into hell with all your books.
The believers understood the power of knowledge. That's why they were throwing their books away! They saw their books as part of their well manicured facade that only served to fill their hearts with more emptiness.
In a sense, the believers were not burning their books as much as they were burning their facades.
They were giving up their well-positioned appearances to say, "My life had no meaning to me! Do not follow my old ways, because I have found life!"
Before these people found Jesus, their accomplishments and victories were built on the underlying power of their self-loathing and disgust with their own lives. They were trying to build the success of their lives upon a foundation which they fundamentally viewed as a failure. They were trying to make something worthwhile by hiding something totally worthless.
When these people found Jesus they found new meaning. They found that their lives were hidden in Christ. They felt something empty was transformed into something that was full.
Inwardly speaking these people had passed from death to life, and the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.
As encouraging and uplifting as this passage may be, I shudder to consider the way the people who claim to be Christians would respond to such a book burning in these days.
"Christianity is based on the truth, so we should welcome knowledge." I can hear people saying. "The books were bad because they were magic books, whereas our books today are based on science, math, economics, political science, comedy, celebrity gossip ..."
But, of course, many people display all these books as if they had magically given their lives meaning while the dark truth lurks under the surface.
And -just like the magic books of the Bible times- people display their learning to be seen by others so they can lord it over them.
Jesus praised the Father because he had hidden his best things from the wise and learned and revealed them to infants. However unhappy an infant may seem at times -even though the child may cry and sometimes scream- the infant is far happier than the buffoons who make a big show of their learning to impress other people.
My friends, I am not challenging you to burn your books. I am not asking you to avoid education. I am simply asking you to examine your heart and flee from idolatry.
Just as God revealed the fullness of joy through his word in the earliest days of the church, he is ready to reveal his joy today through his word.
These days it is not hard to find a person who has had a little education. It is not even hard to find people who can read and write. What is uncommon is finding a person with ears to hear, and a heart to receive.
May the Lord write all the laws of his new covenant on the hearts of those who trust in him. May they grow in the joy of knowing him. May they find rest in their company of a Shepherd who will never leave them.