Passion and sacrifice
We begin the day in Pergamum with a lesson from Craig on 1 Peter who writes to God’s people, “strangers in the world,” scattered throughout the parts of Turkey we are visiting. (Again the Word comes alive for us in this place and we find ourselves so hungry for more). Peter encourages the believers to be sober-minded and holy as they live the gospel in a pagan environment.
We soak in that pagan culture as we walk through the ruins of the Asclepion, a shrine where people sought healing from the god Asclepious through healing waters, rest, herbs, and diversions. We hear that when Jesus healed he took pains to show that the healing ultimately came from God alone, not pagan dieties or objects with magical properties. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head of every power and authority” (Col 2:9). We know that as the early believers took a stand for Christ they disrupted traditions and economies and suffered persecution. We ask ourselves, “How do we compromise with our culture? How do we stand for Christ in our own world?”
Again, we are warmly welcomed by the Turkish people as we visit a carpet-making cooperative. We learn to spin silk from cocoons and watch the intricate weaving of carpets. We slide our bare feet across wool, silk, and soft cotton. We are served a savory homemade lunch ending with the sweetest strawberries ever. We find ourselves falling in love with this place and its friendly people.
We explore the Ephesus museum where we feel the weight of Roman domination, grapple to understand worship of emperors and fertility gods.
We eat Turkish ice cream and we drink Turkish coffee and tea. In the evening we take a boat ride on the Aegean Sea where Paul would have sailed on his way to Jerusalem at the end of the third missionary journey.
We’re impressed with the passion and sacrifice of the early Jesus-followers. We thank God that we too possess this treasure of faith in a resurrected Christ above all other gods. How do we carry this message of hope to Turkey, the world, our neighbors? It’s only through the power of Christ within us. Come Holy Spirit!
Submitted by Ann & Peter Dieleman
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