And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves metal images, idols skillfully made of their silver, all of them the work of craftsman. It is said of them, “Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves!” Therefore they shall be like the morning mist or like the dew that goes early away, like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor or like smoke from a window. But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. Hosea 13:2-4
We toured the ruins at Monte Albán today, an archeological site in the mountains of Oaxaca built by Zapotecs around 500 B.C. We went there because it’s important to learn about the history and culture of the people you’re trying to reach with the gospel. Cultural barriers to Christ are very real and can be very difficult to overcome (even in the U.S.).
The ruins are of numerous ‘temples’, tombs, and other structures that sill remain of the once prospering city. At the temples, the Zapotecs worshipped various gods and made sacrifices and other offerings to them. While the archeology and craftsmanship were interesting, it was sad to realize their purpose…the worship of false gods, often times involving human sacrifice. These are a people who long to please gods made of rock; ones that have crumbled away over time.
I talked with Debbie Johnson (a former IMB missionary for many years in S. America) before we got to the ruins and asked her if she thought ‘cultural Christianity’ (people calling themselves Christians but having no real knowledge or observance of the faith) was a problem with other world religions; that a new generation was growing up without any real knowledge of or caring about their ‘faith’. She said that her experience as a missionary was more of people getting fed up with their religion and its rules and finding a new hope in Christ. Pray that the Zapotecs may see the futility in their pursuit of false gods and idols that are ‘worthless, a work of delusion’ (Jeremiah 10:15) and look to a living hope in a resurrected Savior.
Written by Jennifer Gidden