Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hungry Ghost Festival

Ingrained in Chinese people is the religious tradition of the Ghost Month, which has just recently gotten underway. We have been told by local missionaries that this is a time of exceptional spiritual darkness. During this month, it is said, dead ancestors will visit their living relatives. It is also a time of fear, people attempt to ease the suffering of their deceased loved ones through a variety of rituals. The country of Taiwan is predominantly Buddhist and Taoist but with sprinklings of numerous other religious traditions as well.
On Saturday, Beth and I took the opportunity to travel outside the city for a day at the beach. The trip, in and of itself, was an adventure but I'll leave that for another post. We walked around a small coastal town and eventually wandered into a local temple. It was ornate, to say the least. As we walked through the temple, I began to think of what I have recently been reading in the Word. Over the past months, I have been working my way through the Old Testament and, most recently, I Kings. It is amazing how time and time again God reveals/blesses/speaks to His people and how they eventually always turn from Him to the Baals and Asherahs. So often we in the West mock the people of Israel (and those from other cultures) for worshipping "hunks of wood and rock." As I walked through the temple, it finally clicked for me... they weren't worshipping rock and wood. They were worshipping a very real spiritual presence which is behind that rock and wood. It is no different today for these people we are now living alongside. They are caught in darkness... they are not worshipping nothing, but rather they are worshipping servants of darkness.

This is something that is foreign to me and, I dare say, for many who have spent their lives in the West. We get squirmy when the supernatural is mentioned. But is our worship not just as easily given to idols? A.W. Tozer says in his short book, The Knowledge of the Holy, "Let us beware lest we in our pride accept the erroneous notion that idolatry consists only in kneeling before visible objects of adoration, and that civilized peoples are therefore free from it. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place."

In light of this, we ask that you might remember the people of Taiwan in your prayers. They area a people in bondage to sin and idol worship with no hope for the future.

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