pure & undefiled religion

[still in the editing process]

“All of our notions of modernity and progress and all our advances in technological expertise have not brought an end to war. Our declaring the notion of sin to be obsolete has not diminished human suffering. And the easy answers: blaming technology, or …the world’s religions have not solved the problem.

The problem, C.S. Lewis insists, is us. And the crooked and perverse generation of which the psalmists and prophets spoke many thousands of years ago is our own, whenever we submit to systemic and individual evils as if doing so were our only alternative.”

-Kathleen Norris, in an introduction to C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”

What is religion? Christianity? And what makes Christianity different from the other religions of this world?

Over the last couple of weeks – in conversations with friends, in class lectures, and in literature – these questions have been popping up.

Because I’ve found myself unable to completely answer them, I am on an ongoing search to epitomise (in my life) what so many before me have pursued: pure and undefiled religion. I guess it’s because I don’t want to settle for less than what God wants for me, because I want to edify and build up the lives of people around me, because I want to stop putting a perfect God in a box of imperfect societal standards and manmade rules.

The best and clearest way I can think to start this journey is through this famously quoted verse.

James 1:27 (KJV): “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Essentially, the religion that I so earnestly seek has two parts to it:

  1. Visiting the fatherless and the widows in their affliction
  2. Being unspotted in a polluted world

This is easier said than done. When I try to analyse this verse, I find myself asking: who are the fatherless and the widows? what does it mean to ‘visit’ them? what does being unspotted entail, when we are called to be in the world but not of the world? what is the church’s duty and our individual duties to do the above?

In the next couple of days, as I reflect and meditate, I am going to think on these two simple, yet complex commands given to us by our Lord.

 

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