Today my assistant, Hal Downer, and I are discussing true religion. We are doing a series entitled “Get Real.” James 1:27 is the backdrop of the series where true religion is described as ” taking proper care of orphans and widows.” What an admireable thing to do! True religion is doing the right things as God writes them on our heart. I do not and most people do not intentionally mean to be disobedient but at times we simply miss God.
I was leaving a drug store one day and on my way out I saw a woman crying. My heart told me to do something, console, pray, whatever to comfort this woman! But as I began to reason I thought, “I do not have time; I have to get back to the office for an appointment; Besides what help could I be anyway?” I did not help but returned to my office instead. Immediately I felt guilty for failing to do what I could do to help that lady. I am a thoughtful person, I am compassionate, I really do care about others but this time, I blew it! I failed to practice “true religion.” Another time a drunk person asked me if I had any money he could have, to buy some food. I told the man I did not have any money (that was a lie). Guilt so riddled me that later, I returned to that location, found the man, purchased him breakfast, and told him that I really believed God wanted me to do that. True religion perhaps has to do with changing the world for the better by changing lives. The first life that needs to be changed is our own. It is changed as God writes His Word on our hearts.
My desire to practice true religion is often thwarted by my choices of where I go and who I associate with. I am confined to my office way too much so unless God sends me someone in need, chances are, I will not encounter them. I know where needy people are but I pretty much isolate me from them because they tug heavily onm my heart.
I have spent days in sugucal waiting rooms with parents of children having surgery. My presence provides comfort, encouragement and support for the families and I am happy to be there. I noticed that when doctors meet with parents after surgery, usually the news is either good or not good. It is at these moments when parents need support, encouragement and prayer. I think our presence in situations like this is pure religion.
There are lonely forgotten people in hospitals and nursing homes and there are opportunities to practice true religion all around us. We need to listen to our heart and then act accordingly.
As Hal and I prepare ourselves for this series we are expecting God to give us opportunities to practice true religion. May we realize and act on these moments in a God honoring way and may we be able to effectively model the importance of and how to be, real.