India is a fascinating land because the worship of false gods is so blatant.
During my two weeks here I’m staying in a hotel that is about a forty minute drive from where I’m working. As I make that exciting and frenetic voyage back and forth each day I pass many, many Hindu temples. While they vary somewhat in the details, the architecture is essentially the same. Just as a Baptist church building sits on every street corner in Texas, there’s a Hindu temple in every neighborhood in India. Additionally, Islamic mosques – easy to spot because of their distinctive minarets – are sprinkled here and there between the temples.
The facility where I’m working is similar to the JCB plant back home in Savannah. The heavy equipment, tools, machines, offices, and even building color schemes are the same. The one main difference is that small Hindu shrines sit inside each assembly area. If I want to cross from one side of the skid steer building to the other I have to walk past pictures of Krishna, Vishnu, and Shiva to do so.
Last night I had the privilege of visiting with a co-worker’s family. He is a very friendly Indian man who I just met two day ago. To use an expression from the American South, his family “put on the dog.” Not literally mind you. This means that they prepared much nice food. I was stuffed with all sorts of wonderful Indian cuisine by the time I left. The only sad part is the false god worship. Not long after I first entered his home, my co-worker pointed to a picture up on a wall and said, “This is our family god Krishna.”
India has 800 million Hindus and 200 million Muslims (other religions, including Christianity, make up small percentages). For comparison, the entire United States only has 300 million people. The Indian religious scene is refreshing in a sense in that the people are at least honest and up front about the false gods they worship. There’s no hiding it. Of course they do not think of it as idolatry, but that’s what it is nonetheless.
We residents of the United States know that the worship of false gods is alive and well in our country. Just as numerous false gods exist in India, there are many others in the USA. The difference is that those in America are a little more subtle. What are they? Let’s name a few: money, power, status, privilege, comfort, food, sports, sex, cars, clothing, technology in general, Facebook, smart phones, exercise, politics, vacations, movies, houses, and even pets. You could probably add many more to this list. The American false god smorgasbord is as thriving as it is varied. I’m not sure which is sadder: Indians intentionally worshiping false gods or Americans cluelessly doing the same.
I realize that I’m painting with broad strokes here. There are doubtlessly many Indians who worship from the American list above. Also, some Americans do worship the more traditional false gods; I can think of a Hindu temple, Islamic mosque, and Buddhist place of worship in our relatively small city of Savannah.
My primary point in this post is that false gods take many forms. They are everywhere. We must all be vigilant to rid these from our own lives. Also, these realities should spur us to share the gospel widely and abundantly. While India has a vast population that needs the good news of Christ, let’s not forget about the need back in the USA.
As I write this post I can hear what sounds like some sort of Hindu chanting in the background. I’m not sure if it is coming from inside or outside the hotel. Regardless, someone is doing his morning puja (worship). We live in a world in desperate need of the only good news. Let’s be liberal sharers of the one message that can combat everpresent false gods.