This was first posted as a regular update for those checking in on us during our trip to Greece, Turkey, and Rome. We travel with GTI Study Tours, and are thankful for the work they do.
These past few days have been a reminder to me that growth happens in community. Today, we ventured into Ephesus and Aphrodisas, one city that is well known to us through Scripture and another new and unknown.
I am quite partial to Ephesus, and one of those many reasons is that my favorite conjunction in the Bible, “but God,” finds itself smack dab in the text, in the heart of a city where the brothel and gods demand constant allegiance. If we are honest with ourselves, that portion of text also describes our lives clearly if we are those who know the truth of the Gospel.
As one who finds herself to be much more “hellenistically” minded, I have also fallen into the mindset that this run, this life of faith, is mainly one to be done alone, on my own. Of course, I know the right, biblical answers as to why this is not right, but like most knowledge that we might have of the truth, sometimes we find ourselves to still be unbelievers of that truth in our heart.
What struck me in Ephesus as we walked together, sat, and talked together, was that over the past few days, we have bantered and debated, yet have only grown in love towards one another and for Christ. This for a long time has seemed paradoxical, but today much more clear. As many people shared together under a tree which used to be in the area of the temple to Roma, there were many who confessed blind spots as to why they need community. In God’s good kindness, the chapter I last read of my book called, “Liturgy of the Ordinary” by Tish Harrison Warren has to do with these communal challenges. She writes:
As I think again about the glorious conjunction of the gospel, God intervening, BUT GOD, I think too of the ways in which this has been passed down throughout the generations, especially as we walk through the streets of Ephesus. Because the gospel is the power of God, those who have truly been changed by Him make disciples. It spread like wildfire throughout Asia Minor, and very clearly, further than that. Friends, family, we must remember. We must remind one another.
We finished the blazing hot day in the artist colony city of Aphrodisas. Not only was the art incredible, but the archaeology found of the stadium there was seriously well-preserved. We sat from the top overlooking the arena, where brothers and sisters before us more than likely went to their utterly painful deaths. Rod led us into remembering those portions of sport-pictures in the text, running the good race, finishing, persevering to the end.
All of these people have a story that are with me here on this trip. All of these people have testimonies of God’s great and glorious faithfulness through some of the worst suffering I would never ask to endure. And yet, BUT GOD.
The question was this: are you making disciples with your life, running the race well and devoted?
I need that question everyday, with the reminder, the fresh knowledge that Jesus has done this for me and I can boast, running in the strength He gives with daily bread and living water.
Not one of us hesitated to follow, grabbing a stone, and building an ebenezer.
Jesus is our abundance. Jesus is our all. Hold fast to the gospel, friends. Don’t do this alone.