I met a man named Marco today. As I passed by his carpet shop he asked, “Where are you from?” I immediately responded with a smile, “L.A.” “Then you must be in a hurry!” He responded. Recognizing my confusion he said, “Come sit!”
After offering me a Turkish Coffee, or, what I like to call “Heart Attack in a two ounce cup,” he took me by the arm and welcomed me to a small street-side table where he typically enjoys the closing of the day. Thinking I would brush him off and move on to my appointed objective was a mistake. The longer I stayed the more I realized the divine appointment. I walked away from Marco wondering if somehow I had missed something crucial. Marco explained to me how we Americans are so busy pursuing money, houses, and cars that we are killings ourselves. He said, “Jeff, you look tired. Slow down. Enjoy our great town.” We here in Sulcuk (medium sized town adjacent to Ephesus) are simple people. We live in simple homes, are content with simple things like Turkish Tea and Coffee, and enjoy every day we live.” Remarkably, nothing in Selcuk opens until 10am because nothing closes until midnight. However, shop owners will not rush to sell you anything. They are always open for you but each shop owner seems content with providing a service and making enough to live simple lives. I saw no beggars in the streets. Even the local dogs and cats are treated as part of the larger family. Make no mistake. There are those who have made millions. Most live in a community called Kusadasi just twenty minutes outside the city center. But they too love simple lives.
After my evening with Marco, my mind went to another place. The people of Selcuk are extremely religious. The Iman sounds the call to worship three times a day and many go to the Mosque and others place a carpet on the sidewalk and offer prayers of thanksgiving. While I am saddened by their misplaced loyalty, I envy their lifestyle. What would happen if the church bells rang three times a day in SanDimas, Rancho, or West Covina? Would people come to pray? Would those who could not leave work place a mat in their office and thank God for the day? How would I respond when neighbors called the police accusing OneAndAll of disturbing the peace? Have we done what Jesus warned us not to do? Are we so busy serving mammon that we have no time to serve God? Do we really need the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the money we make? Have I fallen for the lie that more and bigger is better? If most of the world saw the house I live in they would say, “Where are the other four families that live with you?” If they saw three cars in my driveway, they would say, “Which family drives which car?” Jesus said, “It is hard for a rich man to enter Heaven.” Is that you? Me? Us?
I need to make some changes. You?
Pastor Jeff Vines, Lead Pastor at ONE&ALL Church
Published September 8, 2021
Today with Jeff Vines at ONE&ALL Media