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The Days are Evil
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Tuesday, September 08, 2015
Wendy Wippel

I write this sitting on a cruise ship balcony at the port of Kusadasi, gateway to the ancient city of Ephesus. The Muslim evening prayers echo from Kasudasi’s hills, while a group of orthodox nuns, every inch of them covered in black, scurry past. They say travel broadens the mind. It has focused this one.

Over the last two years I have had the opportunity to do grand tours of nearly every inch of both Italy and Spain (chaperoning my daughter’s school trips), visit the Caribbean Islands (my husband and I’s first-ever cruise), and now a second cruise (we decided we liked them. A lot), on which, so far, we have seen Rome, Athens, Ephesus (in Turkey), and three Greek Islands: Santorini, Mykonos, and Delos. My husband and I have seen everything there was to see in every port, and have had numerous lectures on what we are seeing from an assortment of very knowledgeable tour guides.

In other words, we have learned a lot. But the massive download of specific information we have received in the last seven days has been eclipsed by two overwhelming high-level realizations.  

First, the one-world coalition that Revelation describes is not on the horizon.

No. But only because it’s absolutely at our doorstep.

The ship we’re on has more than 50 nationalities on it, and the interesting thing is that, until they speak, they all dress and look like anybody you would see in the States.  (They behave the same, too. All maxing out their credit cards, iphones permanently attached to their ears.) And when they ask where we’re from we say Memphis-- they all want to talk about Elvis plus American movies and American sports.

American culture has permeated the globe. In all the major cities (and many isolated places) you can find McDonalds and Burger King. (And Dominos and Dunkin Donuts). Our Turkish tour guide today, in fact, informed us that Dunkin Donut coffee is hands-down the favorite of Turks. And there hasn’t been anywhere I couldn’t get a Diet Coke.

Global corporations, the relative ease of global travel, and the global culture created by (mostly) American film, American TV, and the permeation of Western brand names throughout the world has rapidly created a global culture. (Driving through rural Turkey today, we passed an outlet mall advertising Benneton clothing and Hermes bags). The downside of this global culture is that it makes every foreign terrorist a possible future neighbor and it facilitates instantaneous global conversation, making our own citizenship readily vulnerable to terrorist ideologies.

All of which simply encourages future steps toward the one-world system (which will  finally achieve world peace, of course) that the Bible warns us about.

As one politician observed, the scariest words in the English language are “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.”

The globalization of culture is pretty much a done deal.  And anybody watching the nightly news can’t miss the headlines’ implication that the global political system is right around the corner. One world is upon us. 

Second, (pardon me for stating the obvious), but as a Mississippi Baptist, to be honest--although my head knows better--it sort of seems like everyone is already a Christian.. Nearly everyone claims authentic Christian faith. (Emphasis on claims.)

But I’m not in Mississippi anymore.

The third realization is that this world is and always has been seriously lost.  As in sinful, and without a clue.

As evidenced in every stop to date; Rome, Santorini, Delos, Mykonos, Athens, and Ephesus, all still populated by statues and temples dedicated to a host of ancient gods who required constant oblations. Athena, Artemis, Apollo, Zeus, and Poseidon, to name a few.  Thousands of small images of the gods, as well, have been found, offered in places of sacrifice across the islands. The gods’ favor depended on faithful performance of these ritual oblations.

6000 years after Santorini was founded, nothing has really changed. The “Christian” population of Greece is primarily Greek Orthodox, a church in which salvation is essentially based on faithful performance of the established rituals. Ditto Italy, with Roman Catholicism.  And Turkey, obviously, along with much of the near east, is Muslim. Also a religion of works.

None of this is earth-shattering revelation, obviously, but experiencing it all together on this trip was sobering. So much of the Earth’s population either ignorant of Christ’s redemption or blinded by lies of Satan.

Like the throngs of faithful catholics at the Vatican, which now holds the majority of the world’s treasures in the Vatican Museum. Who’ve come to Italy to perform their Catholic rituals in that place, get a glimpse of the pope in the window he looks out of on Sunday and Wednesday, and- -if they’re lucky -- to receive the host on Sunday in  St. Peter’s Basilica itself.

Extra points on God’s scorecoard, apparently. 

Like whatever cleric placed the two crosses on top of one Rome church-- one with Jesus dying on it and, incredibly, one with Mary.

Like the thousands of female pilgrims today at the house of the Virgin Mary, high on a hill in Ephesus, praying and singing songs to the Virgin Mary, and --in a brick wall that seemed at least half a mile long-- inserting pieces of paper asking Mary to answer their prayers.

Like the Muslims we witnessed this morning, stopping all other activities to roll out their mats and perform their ritual prayers. Turkish people who were unfailingly hospitable and gracious, but totally and completely lost.

The whole world is lost. And we are the only ones with the good news. And if the whole world is one the brink of coming under one world-wide government, time is seriously growing short.

I don’t know about you, but despite the fact that our redemption seems to draweth nigh at a quicker pace every day, I can’t seem to get sharing those glad tidings with the rest of the world off the back burner. The 40+ hour work week. Bills to pay. Groceries to acquire. Laundry to do. Nice church activities to show up at.

I’m pretty sure we all know that drill.  But this trip has convicted me also by the example that has been set for us by Paul.

We saw Mars Hill, the rocky outcrop where Paul preached in Athens.  What you don’t get from the Bible is that it is located directly in front of the entrance to the Acropolis, the religious center of the city.

Front and center. He wasn’t afraid of offending anybody. Because the reality of the resurrection and his redemption trumped any worries about that.

We saw where he preached in Ephesus the Grand Theater, causing a riot, with the local population screaming “Great is Diana of the Ephesians", one of the things which attracted attention from Roman officials.

And we saw, in Rome, the Mammertine prison, the jail in which he was kept, and the place of the three fountains, where he was killed.

For proclaiming that there was a King higher than any earthly one.

I finish this in the port of Rhodes, it’s ancient walls embellished by the crusaders, who took time out from trying to kill everyone who didn’t worship Christ to build a castle.  The ancient fortress is beautiful in a stark, historic way, but it’s another reminder that the world is lost. And always has been.

What we have is too precious to keep it to ourselves.    

Time is short, and the days, more than ever, are evil.

What are we doing with the days we have left?

About Wendy Wippel

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