"Be impressed with God and aware of the enemy" is what the discipleship training school leader said to me as I sat at breakfast discussing my observation about how overt idolatry was here. There were gods and altars in every yard and at every gate.
Temples and statues marked the canvas of the streets and the parks. They stood tall in communities and airports. I was in a whole new world of spiritual activity, or so I thought.
For the first few days after my arrival in Indonesia I was very aware of the spiritual plane. Daily the people offered gifts to their gods and traditional garb decorated the women and men as they walked the streets. Commands and warning to not serve foreign gods flooded my mind as I drove from town to town observing. The effects of demonic activity seemed to be staring me in the face as ghastly images lined the streets all the way to my new place of residence.
While I observed these something thing odd thing was happening, I was feeling very uncomfortable. It wasn't the uncomfortable feeling of a tight pair of shoes, it was more the "I don't like that I am the only person on the road in the dark" kind of uncomfortable. It was as if because I was seeing all these idols I felt as if demons were more at work so to speak. I was thinking that they had more power here. So now I must pray harder, avoid sin more and be more...vigilant?!
After being here for a week and heading home from a night of outreach to women who are escorts and dancers in night-clubs I looked around at the idols in all the menacing stature and the Holy Spirit revealed to me the very same thing. Idolatry and demonic activity were just as much as work in the western world as they were here. Christianity Today writer Jason Hood in his article Idolatry, the Gospel, and the Imitation of God said this
"The most famous statue in the United States is the Statue of Liberty....the image atop the base is the Roman goddess Libertas. Now we may not worship this goddess in the traditional manner.
But it is not too much to say that our radical allegiance to self and independence is idolatrous worship, nor that such worship manifests itself in extravagant offerings of money spent and relationships sacrificedâeven the sacrifice of the unborn."
Idolatry was universal, the idols just looked different. It looked like the numerous posters of half naked women selling sex through mainstream advertising. It was the self-centred 'get all you can now' theme of progress and climbing to the top. Our idols towered over us as business places and malls, we paid homage daily with our time as we scrolled through our social media app of the day.
And whilst these things happened I wasn't afraid. I was even asleep so to speak. Many of us strolled through that kind of life not as sober and vigilant as I was trying to be here in Indonesia. Unfortunately here I became... impressed with the enemy and his reach instead of staying impressed with God.
The reality of God being Powerful
I don't have to convince any Christian that lives here that idolatry is rampant. God of gods takes on a literal sense in this setting. We have to believe that to be effective in praying and I have to believe that when I speak to a Hindu woman about the gospel. However, one is flagged as a fanatic when attempting to raise awareness of the same to Christians in the west.
We vehemently guard our earthly trappings and comforts snarling at the faithful few who challenge us to assess our focus. Jason Hood in the aforementioned article quotes Beale's thesis stating, "All of us are imitators and there is no neutrality, [we] are either being conformed to an idol of the world or to God."
We must stay in awe.
We must not wait until we are almost 24 hours travel away from home in a hindu country to be sober and vigilant. Neither is the solution what I was initially doing, being in awe of my surroundings and masquerading it as some kind of spiritual piety, while wondering if any slip up would cause major spiritual attack and ruination.
Instead, the solution was to stay in awe of God, knowing that all gods are subject to Him, yet being aware of my enemy without giving him preeminence in my mind. God is beyond any power on earth. His majesty is beyond comprehension.
Stacy-Ann Smith - is a child therapist. She is involved with youth and children's ministry and has a heart to work with young women teaching them the ways of the Lord. She serves as a board member of the Kingston and St. Andrew Foster Parent's Association and is currently on mission in Bali.
Stacy-Ann Smith's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/stacy-ann-smith.html