Monday, April 18, 2011

Reflections from India: Glorious Temples

It has been two months since my Dad returned from his mission trip to India. Many of you prayed for him during that time and I've wanted to share some of the awesome praise reports. In the past few weeks, Dad has written about his trip. There are many amazing testimonies, two which he wrote about and included in his church's newsletter. Below is the first of two:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My mission trip to India on February 6-18 was humbling and life-changing. There are so many stories to tell, but I will only tell two of the lessons God taught me.
Glorious Temples
One day, as Jesus' disciples were leaving the temple, they marveled at the massive stones and beautiful construction of the magnificent building. Jesus quickly put things in perspective by reminding His disciples, "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." (Mark 13:1-2). The temple may have been a magnificent work of art, but it couldn't compare with the temple Jesus had come to establish. "God does not live in temples built by hands." (Acts 17:24). Through His suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus came to establish new temples where God's glory would dwell. By God's grace, we have become the glorious temple where God wants to display His glory. "We are the temple of the living God." (2 Cor. 6:16).

While I was in India, I had the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra. I have to admit that it was quite an impressive building. The massive pieces of marble and the incredible architecture has remained a tourist attraction for many people around the world. I was glad that I had the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal, but I didn't sense God's glory as I walked around inside. Even though this building has stood for centuries, it will not stand forever, because it was made by human hands. However, it is a different story for the temple Jesus came to build.
After our tour was over, I accompanied Pastor Ferd as he was going to teach at a small congregation in the slums of Agra. The two of us hopped into a rickshaw and traveled through the worst poverty I have ever witnessed. My heart ached as I saw people living in garbage and cooking their little rice over a fire fueled by dry cow-dung. Raw sewage filled the air and starving cattle lay dying in streets. As I looked into the face of these people, I saw an expression of hopelessness. Just when I felt like turning back, we arrived at a temple - a glory-filled, joyful temple of hope! It was a tiny building that couldn't hold more than 20 people, but it was filled to capacity with people who were singing, "I'm so happy today. Jesus Christ has taken my sins away!" In the heart of the slums of Agra I found a temple whose glory surpassed that of the Taj Mahal.
Pastor Ferd began a teaching to these faithful believers (through an interpreter) entitled "The Glory of God in the Darkness of the Cross." As these hungry followers of Christ listened to this wonderful teaching, the glory of God filled His temple. Joy, hope and faith filled that little room and I sat in envy of such dedicated disciples of Christ.
I thank God for the facilities where His Church gathers here in America and I believe that He wants us to be good stewards of such property. Some of our buildings may be more impressive than others, but we must never think that God's glory dwells in a building simply because there is a sign out front that says CHURCH. God's glorious temples are spirit-filled, followers of Christ - not a buildings made of wood and stone.
One day all the magnificent temples built by man will crumble and fall, but the eternal temple built by Jesus will stand forever. Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18). When Jesus builds a temple it will stand forever. You, my brothers and sisters in Christ, are God's glorious temple! May the glory of God fill His temple!

by Pastor Steve Roth

No comments: