Wineskins Archive

February 6, 2014

The Gritty Truth (Jan-Apr 2000)

Filed under: — @ 1:23 am and

by Rick Gamble
January – April, 2000

One of the world’s most beautiful buildings, the Taj Mahal, was built by Shah Jahan who ruled India for thirty years, beginning in 1628.

The white-marbled wonder was designed as a magnificent representation of the throne of God. It also served as a monument to the Emporer’s cherished wife, Arjunand Begum, who was known by the title, Taj Mahal (“Crown of the Palace”). When construction began in 1631, the work was done by 20,000 stonemasons, gem cutters, and marble fitters. Even so, it took twenty-two years to finish the awesome structure, in which the Emporer’s beloved was then buried.

But the Taj Mahal is in grave danger from a silent and insidious enemy. American President Bill Clinton described the problem eloquently during a recent visit. “Pollution has managed to do what 350 years of wars, invasions and natural disasters have failed to do,” he said. “It has begun to mar the magnificent walls of the Taj Mahal.”

Located in the north-central city of Agra, the fabled monument is surrounded. Human filth fills the city’s main drain, diesel-fueled cars spew toxic fumes, and a ghastly, polluted pall hangs over the city. The situation is only worsened by the area’s two million residents who must burn garbage and dung for heat because they have no stable source of power.

And so the white marble walls yellow and corrode. In the 1980s, environmentalists petitioned the Supreme Court to shut down 200 local iron foundries, but many remain open with the support of defiant workers. “They say if the Taj Mahal is going to make them jobless … please take it out of this town and let us live in peace,” says tour guide Rajiv Saxena. Two years ago, the city planted trees around the monument and banned all but electric vehicles from its vicinity. But critics say if more isn’t done, corrosion will continue.

In the same way, the church is extremely vulnerable to the effects of the pollution surrounding her. Though she, too, was designed as a representation of God’s throne, her original strength and purity is menaced by the moral environment that envelopes us. That’s why we must continually and fervently petition our Supreme Judge for authority to shut down the sources and forces of spiritual pollution that threaten us.

But don’t expect help from those in the world. People enveloped in impurities get used to the environment, and they don’t take kindly to those who threaten their way of life. Like the people of Agra, those around us have no stable source of power in their lives. It’s no surprise they’ve learned to rely on garbage.

But the bigger threat is that we, ourselves, will carry the pollution inside the church. Look for signs of creeping compromise in the way you think, act, and live. “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” writes the apostle Paul. “God will bring ruin upon anyone who ruins this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you Christians are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17).

When we’re willing, God can keep us clean and renewed from the inside. But if we become careless and too accommodating the church – like the Taj Mahal – will become little more than a dingy mausoleum for the Emporer’s beloved.Wineskins Magazine

Rick Gamble

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