Today we arrived and after a long three hours of sleep we got up to head down to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal. Words are difficult to come up with to describe the majesty, beauty and splendor of this magnificent structure. When you consider that it was built almost 500 years ago and it is all inlaid with no painting it becomes even more impressive. It is arguably the most majestic piece of architecture, and it was built by a man as a monument to the love he had for his wife.
As I gazed at this structure I was struck by its incredible beauty, and was even more moved as I considered the following: this is a magnificent monument to love built by sinful human hands who are capable only of an incomplete fallible love. What structures may await us in heaven? Structures built by perfect hands as reminders of perfect infallible love that will never crumble or decay. All so that sinful broken man can live and worship a perfect and whole God, forever. He loves us, oh how He loves us!
This evening we went to the Ganges river to witness the Hindu ritual of putting their gods to bed. It was a cacophony of sound with chanting and singing and the banging of gongs and burning of fires. The rituals of the Ganges are many and the Hindus believe that washing in it makes them more pure and if your ashes are spread here when you die it can help break your life cycle and move you into nirvana.
While watching this, many emotions are experienced. Anger, sadness and an overall sense of hopelessness pervades these rituals. Initially there can be almost a smugness. We don’t do this in America, these rituals are so pointless to these poor people.
But, step back and consider–what if…
WHAT IF … we call it the river of comfort instead of Ganges and instead of the clanging of gongs we have the ding of an email or ping of smartphone reminding us of that next appointment we simply have to get to. That next meeting that simply can’t be missed.
WHAT IF … instead of the burning fires we replace it with the turning on of our daily financial markets to see how much closer that ever elusive god of comfort is to being attained. Are our rituals and gods in our cultures really any different than in India?
One member of our group rightly said, “In India the false gods are naked, in America we just dress them up nicer.”
Jesus, let us remember that you and you alone are the only way, truth and Life!
Writer: Neil Propst, India Team Member