Thursday, July 30, 2009

GPS adjustment

Reuters printed an interesting article:
Tourists miss isle after GPS blunder: Tue Jul 28, 2009
ROME (Reuters) - Two Swedes expecting the golden beaches of the Italian island of Capri got a shock when tourist officials told them they were 650 km (400 miles) off course in the northern town of Carpi, after mistyping the name in their GPS.

"It's hard to understand how they managed it. I mean, Capri is an island," said Giovanni Medici, a spokesman for Carpi regional government, told Reuters Tuesday. "It's the first time something like this has happened."

Getting lost in Italy is one thing. But how many of us wander through life, hoping for fulfillment and peace but ending up with a litter of broken dreams in our wake? How many of us hurt those we love most with careless actions and personal decisions?

When we set our GPS (God Positioning System) to ourselves or other gods, we can’t possibly reach our destination. Jesus taught the Beatitudes as a series of alignments to God’s character. Following them is counter-intuitive to American culture. We learn to get all the stuff we can and put our own interests first.

From an Asian expat, I learned that Thailand is one of the world’s most violent countries. The façade of peace in its nationalistic Buddhism is a thin veneer over mean, fiercely aggressive interpersonal relationships. It’s a land of suicide, murder, robbery, and cruelty. “When you’re a tourist, everyone is nice. As soon as you are part of the group, they rip you apart, slash you to ribbons, and demean you.”

I was taken aback because of the American enchantment with Buddhism. I asked if I’d heard him correctly.

He replied, “Every Thai knows the front presented to the West is a façade. Living in Thailand is one of the most devastating experiences possible… unless you have self-worth based on a relationship with God rather than dependence of the words of others. If you need human affirmation, Thais will demoralize you completely.”

Many people in the USA compare the worst of Christianity to the best of other religions. People rightly call all of us imperfect Christians “hypocrites” when we don’t measure up to Jesus’ standards. At the same time, they assume Buddhism brings serenity. They do yoga, the practice of Hinduism with its factions of multiple gods and personalized rituals that demeans all but a single class of Brahmins. They study Islam for its best qualities, ignoring the requirement of jihad, accepted by every Muslim, which demands destroying every other system by whatever means to bring about “Peace” (submission to Islam.)

I want to set my GPS to God’s Word and his truth. Even when I detour, I know where I’m going. And Scripture’s compass is set to show us how to get there.

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