I hate idolatry. The worship of false gods turns humans into animals. While worship of the one true God humbles and exalts what is best in humanity, idolatry enslaves us.
No-where is this more evident to me than in Thailand–the first nation I served that had no Judeo-Christian foundation. Through the veneer of Thai women dressed as dainty goddesses and orange-clad monks bending incessantly to Buddha, sexual immorality reaches new lows. The devotion to myriad gods and goddesses of their own design renders the Thais subject to multiple partnerships, the sex-trafficking of children, and other vile perversions.
False spirituality is a set-up for sexual immorality. Yet how much more beautiful is the hunger of those whose eyes have been opened to Jesus Christ, and who, out of worship of the One, long to be set free from the sexual ties that have bound them? And the gender confusion that has blinded them?
No-where on earth have I seen such a pure hunger for holiness than in Thailand. The tiny minority of Thai Christians knows its need for Jesus in body and soul.
Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.
I will never forget our first conference in Bangkok; it was nearly an afterthought, at the end of a rather thankless series of gatherings in a very ‘religious’ Asian nation. There we worked hard for little, incurring more resistance to ‘living water’ than the release of it.
The biggest enemy of mercy is not idolatry but uptight religion.
Exhausted and discouraged upon entering Thailand, we were amazed to find 400 young adults eagerly awaiting us at the conference. (Thanks in no small degree to the intrepid Sue Hunt!)
God moved mightily through our weakness; it was the first wave of ‘living waters’ in Thailand, with many more to come.
Our next gathering was in Chang Mai, in the north. We arrived on the eve of ‘The Festival of the River Goddess.’ Idolatry had reached a fever pitch in streets rife with sexual immorality. Gay couples mingled with drugged out ‘Anglos’ on the prowl for partners of every age and gender. Most evident was the massive amount of gender confusion. On floats commemorating the ‘river goddess’, dozens of petit Thai princesses preened for the public; the majority were young men whose femininity had been cultivated by a culture unaware of other alternatives.
Whoever thinks Buddhism is a sweet peaceful discipline needs to think again.
I sought refuge downstream in a quiet spot on the river’s edge. Before I could whisper a prayer, a man came up to me with two small children and offered them to me for a price. I became indignant. I made the sign of the cross and told him in no uncertain terms that his children needed his protection. I gave him all the money I had to delay the inevitable. I wept.
And got fired up. Our conference was held in a small church overshadowed by a large Buddhist monastery, one notorious for homosexual practice among the monks. The spiritual atmosphere was quite heavy. More powerful still was the mercy of God setting people free. The testimonies of the Thais who had entered into the river of blood and water sent demons to flight; they paved a sure path to the cross for their countrymen.
Idolatry dulls and divides the heart; Jesus awakens and unifies it. Thank God for His mercy. He alone gives us authority to dunk the river goddess and arise in new life. The old idolater dies, but a new man or woman arises out of the cleansing flood.
‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’