I’m really struggling this week. I work with a bunch of people who are all from India. They don’t all practice the Hindu religion per se, but because of their cultural background in India, they all celebrate the Hindu religious holiday of Diwali. Apparently, Diwali, is kind of like their Christmas. It is a very special celebration for them. Apparently it is actually a 2-week long celebration. But, today is the culmination of the holiday. Looking into it on Wikipedia, it seems like it has various meanings in various areas, but seems related to the celebration of the triumph of good over evil and of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth.
Since I work with all Indian people, I think they wanted to be nice, and invited me to an Indian restaurant for a Diwali lunch today. Also, tomorrow our department is actually having an official Diwali lunch. So two days in a row I will be going to lunch to celebrate Diwali with them. Not only do I not like Indian food, in fact I intensely dislike it (even the smell of it), I now feel like by attending, I’m attending a celebration of an idolatrous Indian Hindu religious festival.
The Lord is clear, that idolatry is a grave sin. It is listed in the Ten Commandments. You shall not make for yourself a graven image. You shall have no other gods before me. (Ex. 20:2-3) It is also listed in several lists of sins in the Bible. For example, Galatians 5:20 clearly says that idolatry is a sin. In fact Paul says in the same passage:
“I warn you as I did before, those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:21b)
That means these friends of mine who worship elephant heads and the goddess Lakshmi will be separated from God for eternity in hell. It emphasizes, those who live like this. I believe that a practicing Hindu is the epitome of living in idolatry. Likewise Revelation 21:8 says:
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Again, this verse is telling me that idolaters (along with a number of other categories of habitual sinners) will go to hell. It is very ironic that this very festival, which is intended to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, in the very process of celebrating it, is perpetrating more evil (idolatry) against the one true God.
So when I attend this lunch today, I will be attending there with a very large group of people who are going to hell, unless they change before they die. I’m really struggling with the idea of going there and celebrating this event with them. I almost feel like, just by me showing up, I am endorsing this event and what it stands for. But then, another side of me says, they’re not believers in Christianity, so why would I expect them to act like believers? Paul says in first Corinthians 5:12-13,
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside of the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside! Expel the wicked man from among you!”
So, it is certainly not my job to judge them.
Some of these people, I have shared my faith with. They’ve heard the gospel. If I haven’t directly shared my faith with them, they know I’m a Christian. They’ve heard the message that Christianity says there is one God. They’ve heard the truth, yet they want to just continue to go their own way. Proverbs 16: 25 says:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
That is what I see happening here. Hinduism and idolatry seems right to them, but it will lead to death. I’ve tried to warn them, particularly this one person, who I had an hour conversation with about the gospel. I challenged him by asking, “What if you’re wrong? What if Christianity is right? If you were wrong, and Christianity is true then you will be in hell for eternity.”
So, at the end of the day, I’m going to attend to be polite. I hope that there will be an open door for me to talk about my faith and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul said,
“To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22).
One of my big dilemmas is whether I should say “Happy Diwali”. Please pray for me Christian brothers and sisters!