Thursday, 17 September 2009

an idol.

One thing I did not expect when visiting Japan was the experience of going to the temples and shrines. I knew we would, but perhaps expected it to be devoid of any actual spiritual meaning. Never have I seen countless clothed statues, 'healing water,' prayers written out to a 'fox god of rice,' blessings chosen at random and tied to wires, people clapping, bowing, chanting, and praying before golden models.

Ringing bells to wake up the gods.

(That reminds me of when Elijah mocked worshipers of Baal. 'Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.')

Several places like this below especially struck me. They were places on the mountain where people had built tiny piles of rocks. It made me think of the remembrances, or 'ebenezers' in the Bible, or the hymn. "Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by your help I'm come!" What a thing to raise a monument to. 'Here's my little offering. Notice me.' What god needs such things?
By grace, my feeble attempts to please God are accepted because they are through the Son. But they are not of me.

Being there immediately made me think of Psalm 135.
The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands.
They have mouths but do not speak, they have eyes but do not see,
they have ears but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.

But what stood out to me was what comes after and I hadn't thought about it before.

Bless the Lord! You who fear the Lord, bless the Lord! O praise the Lord!

Praise Him because he's real. Because he hears and sees and is sovereign. Because he is not a stone.
I cannot fathom how people can bow down to statues. They are blinded. But I also remember that I am no better. I have idols, they just don't take the form of rocks shaped like people. They can be myself, acceptance, material things, comfort, beauty. I still need constant reminders that they can't rule my life.

We are learning.
with love;


Sara said...

and yet they do it with such devotion...

LeAnna said...

Religion is the worlds strongest narcotic- people yearn to worship something because of how it makes them feel. Blind to the truth, they worship a god that does not even exist.

Praise God we have the privilege to know, serve, worship, and adore the only God that is not afar off. The only God who never sleeps. The only God that we can go to empty, broken, and bruised and He will love us just the same. The only God that gave his only Son as a sacrifice so that we could live.

This was a great post, and you did an excellent job summing it up. A friend of mine has lived in India for the past two years, and she said the idol worship there will just break your heart, but you hit home with the fact that we all are capable of worshipping idols. They come in so many shapes and forms that we must learn to tear down, just like the Israelites had to. When an idol was in their camp, there was mayhem, and they sought to find where it was so that it could be removed.

natalie said...

Fascinating photos! I enjoyed looking at your previous ones of Japan, too.

Also- you've been tagged. Check out my blog for the details:)


Gloria said...

Incredible blog, Cait! I've added myself to your subscribers. It was great talking with you the other day!