After Christmas I was afforded the opportunity to visit one of the largest and most interesting populations in the world, India. My trip to India wasn’t my first trip to a foreign country, but it was a distinctively different trip than I had experienced before. The language was completely foreign to me (Did you catch the pun?). The hemisphere was different; India isn’t on this side of the world! LONG FLIGHT! And lastly, converting to Christianity illegal!
While in India we attended a Hindu temple. Hindu is the dominant religion of India, though the Muslim population is growing. As we waited in line to walk through the temple I observed several interesting things.
The first interesting thing is that I was waiting in a line. I was waiting in line to pay for admission, a locker for my shoes, and a card that permitted me to take photos of the temple. My point is simple; the temple was a lucrative and vile business. It was in the business of selling “hope”! Every room included the opportunity to buy goods of which should be sacrificed to the gods. It reminded me of Disney world, full of opportunities to spend money. In one corner I could buy coconut milk to feed a god, in another was a pot to place my change in which would bring financial blessing, in another was a stand to buy candles which would bring me cleansing, and finally as I exited, I had the opportunity to buy books. All of these items were guaranteeing my success, future, and forgiveness. Allow me to clarify, I have no problem making money and operating a business, but I do have a problem with selling “hope” especially false “hope”. To my Hindu friends this is likely offensive, so I guess I must apply the same lens of religion to Christianity.
In the Western world we are guilty of such things as well. Many “pastors” and “churches” are in the market of “hope” sales and the “Almighty Dollar” is god. Here is an extreme example: http://youtu.be/kodIfLTCjDE
As disgusting and extreme this example is, we must be careful as Christians, pastors, and churches to not fall into selling “hope”. We must freely and sacrificially proclaim and give hope, the only true hope, Jesus Christ.
Help me to proclaim hope sacrificially and liberally. Help me to practice and proclaim a string-less grace that makes my need for justice uncomfortable.