before God and the Father is this:
to visit orphans and widows
in their affliction, and to
keep oneself unstained
from the world.
It is a shock to our sensibilities. One’s mind cannot sufficiently wrap around the image to even get a clear picture. How did our world get to this point? Unseen by scientists, there are three invisible rings that surround the world. They are made up of children standing hand in hand–143 million of them. They are the world’s orphans in the 21st century.
Given the definition of pure religion, as found in this passage of James, it would appear that the challenges facing Christians in the 21st century haven’t changed from the 1st century. Hundreds of years later the world continues to work feverishly to divert our attention away from reality. While searing images of emaciated children and desperate women may flash before us they are quickly soothed by promises of a good night’s sleep.
When we find ourselves in the midst of a crisis it is difficult to think next door much less globally. Most of the time we feel only what is affecting us in our self focused reality. And, the stains of the world assure us that it is our right to focus and concentrate on ourselves.
James, however, reminds us that to live a religion that is pure is to live outside of ourselves and live in the disappointments, sorrows, discouragements of another. More than likely it will be painful, but the result will be a clearer view on what is pure and undefiled while at the same time heightening our awareness of what may be staining our souls.
Jesus, there are times when I cannot see
anything or anyone other than myself.
Forgive me. Open my eyes, today, to the
reality you would have me see.