My team and I just got back from a week in a Thai village, Mae-Ai, about 3 hours north of Chiang Mai. It was an interesting week to say the least; my first adventure with squatty potties and bucket showers. We worked in the rice fields, played with kids and hung out and talked to locals.
During our first few days in the village there was a Buddhist festival in the nearby temple. To be honest, I'm not sure what they were celebrating. They paraded down the streets at night with a man-made bull statue and flashing lights on their trucks, all completely drunk. They offered beer to anyone they passed.
My heart broke for these people. God began working in my heart to pray against the power that Buddhism has in the village; I prayer walked the temple most days and my heart really ached for the darkness and blindness the Thai people live in.
Before I came to Thailand I studied idolatry in the Bible and actually began the process of crushing idols in my own heart. But here before me in Mae-Ai stood physical, real, 20 foot tall, 'gold' idols.
The first night my team and I went to the temple in the middle of the festival and I was overwhelmed. The music and voices were all we could hear in every direction. Everywhere we went there was something screaming for your attention. The people were eating, dancing, offering sacrifices and bowing down to the idols.
The house I was staying in is close to the temple. As I was falling asleep the last night of the festival I felt a little uneasy. The man on the loudspeaker grew more and more enthusiastic until he yelled and what looked like fire and sparks would shoot up above the temple walls and treeline and light up the window.
After the festival was over I felt strongly that I needed to prayer walk the temple, so I went everyday after. Here is where my heart broke even further. To me, everything seemed so clear. I thought to myself, “The 'gods' they were worshiping last night are now laying on the temple grounds. What more do you need? These man-made statues do nothing.”
As I prayer walked the temple I realized my hands were glittering with gold from touching and praying over the idols. How easily this 'gold' rubbed right off these idols. They fade; there is nothing eternal or holy about them.
While studying idolatry I became familiar with Isaiah 44.
“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
I saw these verses come to life, right in front of my eyes in the village. It is not something our God is okay with, He is a jealous God who wants all our worship.
In our own lives we may not be bowing down to 20 foot gold statues, but what are we putting before God?
To what are we giving out time, love, and thoughts?
Let's not worship something that's not even worth it.