Acts 14.5-18; Psalm 113; John 14.21-26
Most of today’s Republic of Turkey was once the Roman Province of Asia Minor (“Little Asia”). Located on the Anatolian (from the Greek word for sunrise) peninsula, bounded on the north by the Black Sea, on the west by the Aegean and on the south by the Mediterranean, this province was one of the wealthiest and most densely-populated parts of the Roman Empire. Christianity spread rapidly here and the first seven ecumenical councils were held in its cities of Nicaea (twice), Constantinople (thrice), Ephesus and Chalcedon.
By the early 20th Century, though, less than a tenth of the Anatolian population were Christians. Virtually all of these were forced out of the area by the 1923 compulsory population exchange between Greece and Turkey.
Paul and Barnabas invited their Lycaonian hearers, in almost the dead centre of Anatolia, to turn from “empty idols” into the embrace of the living God. Today we are more diffident, preferring to find ways to live alongside adherents of other faiths, thinking perhaps that God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ to us alone rather than that he has given us a story to tell to the nations. Yet the Gospel cannot be good news for any if it is not good news for all. God’s life within us is meant to be a kind of virus, infecting all whom we encounter with the blessing of the One Maker of heaven and earth.