Most people buying gold ornaments spend much time selecting fine designs but they rarely pause to find out how pure that gold is and how it is purified. Though not one for wearing any gold myself, while doing minor research on “how” gold is purified, I came across two different descriptions: one, a complicated maze of scientific terms and the other, a simpler one. It speaks of three steps: pulverising the ore, along with dirt and rock minerals; washing and sifting that powder several times and finally putting it through the furnace.
Gold or the golden colour, besides being used for ornaments, is also used to create something outstanding and shining. No wonder then that gold is used in temples, mosques, churches, viharas, and gurdwaras. We have thus the Golden Temple in Amritsar and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the gold Buddha statues in viharas and many Hindu temples in India have tons of gold. Obviously, we want our places of worship to be the best, having possibly the purest and most expensive metal available.
One of the metaphors used in the Bible, as also elsewhere, for purifying one’s character and bringing out one’s best qualities, is that of gold being refined and purified in fire. St Paul writes, “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is… It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.”
The Christian belief is that God, who has made us for himself, tries to draw the best out of us by cleansing us, using the three steps employed in purifying gold. But only if we let him! Like the ore covered with dirt and rock material, the “gold” in us collects dross or rubbish along life’s journey, expressed through our greed for things, lust for flesh, selfishness and ego-centrism, lying and quashing others to get ahead. God sometimes uses tough means on us to grind such negativities in us. While these may appear as problems to us, it is the first step God uses to make us like pure gold.
God then finds ways of washing and sifting us as thoroughly as possible by providing us His Word and teachings through our scriptures. He provides us time to meditate and pray. In the Bible we find David praying: “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”
The final step, often the most painful one, is to put us through furnace. “I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities”, is what God does, as recorded in the Bible. God leaves the choice entirely to us, to let him accomplish his purifying action in us.”