CONFORMING TO CULTURE
Have you ever wanted to be on top of the world? La Rinconada, Peru is the inhabited town on earth at 16,700 feet. It stands on Mount Ananea in the Peruvian Andes in the shadow of Sleeping Beauty, a huge glacier that lurks over the city.
It is as if you live above the clouds. And it is home to some of the most brutal life conditions on earth. There are 50,000 residents who spend much of the year in freezing temperatures. There is no running water, no sewer, or hospital. The government has no real presence in the city.
The city can only be accessed by crossing a dangerous mountainous road covered by grass, rocks, dirt and very often, ice. This trip can take several days. And when you arrive there are no hotels to stay at. The air is very difficult for visitors to breathe. Gravity holds the oxygen near the surface of the earth so that you begin to feel altitude sickness around 10,000 feet tall.
Why would anyone want to live in such a place? Money. A large part of the population is made up of Peruvians hoping to get rich. The economy is maintained with the exploitation of illegal gold mines. Miners can claim any gold they find on the last day of each month.
The lack of sanitation and mining operations have an impact on the strong contamination of soil with mercury. Many of the residents suffer from mercury poisoning, which affects the nervous system causing itching, burning and discoloration of the skin. It seems absurd that people really live in such a place.
La Rinconada is a clear example of what people do to obtain wealth. Men travel thirty minutes every day to enter gold mines full of dangerous gases, mercury and cyanide. All for the hope of getting rich. They adapt to these harsh conditions along with the difficulty of simply breathing every day.
Romans 12: 2 tells us: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” These residents have settled for their surroundings. They are living in a place where no one should live. But we can conform to our culture and live in a way that we should never live.
Have you allowed your desire for money or anything else to make you conform to this world? This can happen slowly and you don’t even realize it. Before you know it, your lifestyle becomes one that does not honor God. He lives to please Jesus and expand his kingdom.