A few years ago, we had the privilege of backpacking in Peru, on the Inca Trail, to the old city of Machu Picchu.
Along the way, we got to learn a lot about the Inca culture that built the city, and some of its beautiful architecture, likely from the 15th century AD (1450s or so).
Like the apostle Paul in Athens, we got to spend the day wandering around the remains of the city. (Note: Photos from Unsplash as all mine came out grainy from early digital camera technology).
Spiritual Thirst in the Culture
We learned about Incan spirituality as we wondered among their city ruins.
History books and archaeologists fill in the story that these stones tell.
We were filled with awe at how their stones were laid together without mortar, and with gaps so small that a sliver of paper wouldn’t slide between.
We awed over how these buildings had withstood earthquakes because of the way they were engineered together.
We were amazed at how their spirituality and architecture intertwined with building placement and design.
Among the ruins, one particular stone caught my eye.
It has been named the Southern Cross stone.
It is a stone (pictured here) in the shape of the constellation in the southern hemisphere called the Southern Cross.
Etched into this stone is the cross itself (not visible in the picture).
The slope of the stone, and the direction of its apex points right to the red giant star that is in the Constellation.
In this ancient culture, a hundred years before the Spaniards came, there is a foreshadowing of God’s witness in the cross.
Make of this what you will.
For some, it’s simply a recognition of a constellation in the sky. A compass reading shows that the top and bottom points run South to North. It is possible that the shape mimics the Southern Cross constellation and for this reason, the rock has been named the Southern Cross.
Possible Hint of Spiritual Thirst
To me, this carving might reflect some spiritual thirst they may have had and felt drawn to the cross.
Maybe they didn’t know what it meant, but it was a part of their spirituality. This stone sits near one corner of the principal temple at the site of Machu Picchu.
When Paul saw an “Altar to an Unknown God” in Athens, he used it as a bridge to explain the gospel.
Paul knew they were spiritually thirsty and weren’t quite satisfied. But their altar served as a bridge to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps these Incas were not quite satisfied with their spirituality either and wondered what the cross might have meant. There was a potential bridge in their culture that could be used to help explain the gospel of God’s grace if something like that was available today.
In our evangelism, we can use bridges to the culture that are already there.
There is a sense of spiritual thirst that every person has, but some realize it more than others. Our culture bears some witness to this thirst and to where satisfaction can be found.
Let me ask you this?
What kinds of spiritual thirst have you seen or heard in people?
Next time you are in a conversation, listen for their spiritual thirst.