How Pure Is Your Religion? James 1:27

“27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” James 1:27

My grandson, David, is a typical ten year old. He lives in a world of Minecraft and Clash of Clans. His family spends many a night curled up on the sofa watching their favorite movies like Star Wars. Rarely is he left alone. Only recently has my daughter allowed him to stay by himself for a few hours. I don’t think he’s ever walked the mile downtown alone.

A very illustrative pre-teen in an average

family, surrounded by love, compassion and protection.

The other day, The Washington Post ran a picture of a boy–no older than David, but probably around eight. He was walking through the ruins of a Syrian town. Not one building stood. The hills he climbed were the rubble of war, the remains of his village. Everything was blackened by fire, and around the corner he could face rifle fire or a bomb or the poisonous gas from the president sworn to protect this country.

I thought, “I could never let my child live under these conditions.” If this was my world, I’d flee.

That’s exactly what thousands of Syrians thought, and it’s what they did. They ran to the shelter of the West, to towns in Serbia, Germany and France. If they got lucky, they could get to England or the United States and raise their children in saftey.

Sadly, what met them were people saying, “Go home” or “Go to another country”.

President Obama wants to bring some to the United States. The loudest opponents to this are the Christians. “We don’t want a Muslim here.” “There’ll be terrorist in the lot.” “I’d be open to letting them into the United States if they were Christian.”

How can we read texts like James 1:27 and deny solace to devastated peoples?
Can we gain comfort from the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37), and then turn our backs on others?

Can we remember the Jews we turned away from our borders in the 1930s or the Japanese we interred at the end of World War II and still deny succor to refugees?

And how about those in ghettos in our own country–people denied human rights because their skin is dark? Do we forget the Civil War and the misery of slavery?

As my brother reminded me, my own family faced bias in the fifties simply because they immigrated from Belarus in 1915 and were still considered a threat.

We, as Christians, cannot be bigots. We cannot worship on Sundays and curse the people made in God’s image and likeness on the next day.

A church that does not couple compassion with spirituality, is defiled.

Do you stand for pure and undefiled faith or is your religion vain?

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