Religion … Back to the Basics

back to basics 1

As the years have gone by and I’ve personally grown and matured in both my walk (with the Lord) and in my professional life, I’ve come to recognize how easy it is to neglect the basics. In a society that is so fast-paced, technologically proficient, and “connected”, we’ve also become disconnected from the world around us.  I believe we are, at this moment, the most informed and connected we’ve ever been as a culture, yet we are simultaneously the most disconnected as well.

I’ve found myself in my interactions with people becoming less patient, tolerant, and even making less eye contact. When someone says, “Good Morning, how are you?” my (our) responses tend to be brief and invite little to no additional engagement, i.e. I’m fine/good. I even question my own motive for asking this basic question (How are you?) as to whether or not I want a genuine answer. If we look at the world around us, the pain, the hurt, the trauma, it’s pretty evident that there are a number of people who are simply not “ok”.

This has slowly but surely broken my heart on many occasions to know that someone may need more than a placid greeting, but our time is so limited that we cannot afford people any depth or meaning. When we consider the life of Jesus and how he spent his time, I am convicted at how often Jesus simply sat with people with the goal of serving them and loving them (e.g., Mark 2:13-17; Luke 7:36-50; Luke 19:1-10; John 4:1-26).

In review of the above-mentioned verses, it is clear that Jesus was connected to the people around him in ways that illustrated GOD’s love for them. And though I’ve shared several examples of how we engage (or are disengaged) I hope to juxtapose these two examples so that we, as believers, reconsider the “small things” in terms of how we interact with the community/world around us.

James 1:27 says, “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.” Jesus was the perfect example of this balance … his heart was for the people, and not just “his” people/friends, but those who were hurting, suffering, and in need. As I reflect on my life and my journey, I readily realize that I’ve woefully neglected pure religion as defined by scripture. I know widows, fatherless, homeless, and I’ve neglected to visit them, spend time with them, and give of my resources to meet their needs. See, sometimes, “how are you” is an excuse to close off a longer, broader conversation that may remove us from our agenda for the day. But isn’t that what pure religion is? It’s not bound by our Google Docs, our Outlook calendars, or Facebook status updates … it’s the simple notion that Love can be spelled T-I-M-E, and as GOD’s representatives on this earth, we are obligated, morally, ethically, and spiritually, to be tangible tentacles of his Love.

So, as you go about prioritizing your day tomorrow, consider this – Who needs more than a “how are you” in passing today? Who needs a visit? A Hand? A Hug? A Smile? Who can you love today, that even if they can’t return it, it is the right thing to do? (Change this sentence to ‘Who can you love today? Even if they can’t return it, it is the right thing to do.) Let’s get back to simplicity and living out the Love of Christ.

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