Maybe we need to lose our religion.
Consider this: Could it be we have exchanged being the church for going to church? Could we have forgone the authentic disciplines of faith and succumbed to the much more appetizing disease of self indulgence? Could we have believed Satan’s diabolical lie that our happiness and comfort at any and every given moment of time is to be most esteemed and relentlessly pursued?
James 1:27 (NIV): “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Unicef estimates there are around 140 million orphans worldwide. That means 140 million little children who woke up this morning in an orphanage, on the street, or in the home of someone other than their birth parents.
In the United States there are over 400,000 children in foster care, approximately 100,000 of those waiting for a forever home. And, currently in Virginia there are over 5,000 children in foster care and over 1,500 waiting to be adopted.
In the Augusta County area, there are about seventeen children ready for immediate adoption, several of which will age out within the next couple of years with no family to ever call their own.
Then, imagine this: A sickly 8 year old boy from Ghana named Adorn (which means help from God) woke up this morning on a dung floored African orphanage because both parents were murdered months earlier right before his eyes.
Does my heart break? Does yours? Is our religion pure and faultless? Did God mean what he said? How can those of us who so readily and loudly shout our opposition to on-demand abortion (and rightfully so, in my humble opinion) ignore the crisis of children already birthed and among us?
What is our religion?
Certainly it is no slight thing when, in perhaps some of the most haunting words in all of scripture, Jesus himself said in Matthew 25, a day is coming when he will separate us into two groups. Those on His right will enter the eternal presence of God himself for their attention to Him when He was hungry, thirsty, sick, naked, and imprisoned. Those on His left, He said, will face a different fate: eternal separation from the LORD. They will say they never saw Him hungry, sick, naked. He will tell them what they did to the least of those around them, they did to Him. You can almost hear their desperate refrain not heard in the scripture, “But, LORD, if we had KNOWN it was you…”
And herein lies an interesting and perhaps most curious irony of life – the best thing we can do for ourselves is to do something for someone else, that in order to be rightly filled, we must first be emptied, that the hole we are seeking to fill with all the vices and vain things which charm us most and distract us from the truth was made for one thing only – the Holy Spirit of God.
Our religion, then, can’t just be relegated to an hour on Sunday, a mere faithful recitation of traditioned exercises, an exhaustive knowledge of the scriptures, or even faith that can move mountains.
No, it must be something more. We must rescue the perishing and care for the dying. We must tend to the needs of widows and orphans. We cannot simply offer a few well-wishes for the traumatized throng all around us as we pass quietly on the other side. Jesus offered no other barometer by which His followers would be measured than to say others would know we are disciples by our love.
Carrying His cross down the road is no leisurely stroll. And so, in order to truly follow Christ, we might have to consider losing some of our comfortable religion and replacing it with something more…
Written by Jeffrey Jordan