I’ve decided I’m not too keen on this concept of being “religious.” So many of us seem too religious. We are religious about our work schedules, our workouts, eating, drinking, reading, looking good, our morning crosswords, shopping, iTunes accounts, iPods, iPads, iSomethings, word choices, kids’ sports, etc. Being religious has little to do with faith, friends. “Religious” simply means devoted to a cause or activity. I’ve known many who are wholeheartedly devoted; and yet many omit any acknowledgement of the divine.
Repeatedly in current societal mantras — also, often, with no acknowledgement of God — I am hearing the calls for justice… for social justice, for a just social standing. The reason so many advocate for the widows and orphans and poor and disabled is because such persons have no social standing; there is no prestige attached to their position. And so, some loudly articulate the need for social “justice.”
How can we provide social “justice”? What can — and should — we do for the least of these? … for the most vulnerable?
… give a cold drink.
… invite in.
… care for when sick.
… visit when imprisoned.
Each of the above compassionately and effectively ministers to the least among us. We should thus be generous in the above provisions. Many, in fact, are “religious” in their attempts to both advocate and provide.
Fascinating to me still, is that many religiously attempt to both advocate and provide but offer no acknowledgement of God. And yet, each of the above socially “just” provisions is deeply rooted in biblical exhortation. It thus then blurs the supposedly nonporous boundary between what is church and what is state — especially when one advocates for social justice as a role of federal government. We are then asking government to do what God has commanded — albeit, what God has commanded the individual… what God has commanded for you and me.
For many “religious” persons — most likely myself, too, at times — we ignore that individual command. We oft abdicate our role in providing for the least among us. We can sit back, shout the name of Jesus, but do we actually engage in the feeding and giving, inviting and clothing, caring and visiting? Some will be called to work in the field; others will be called to contribute monetarily. But it is equally, arguably hypocritical to stand back, acknowledge God’s exhortation to the individual, but then, do nothing to provide for those who have lesser.
Once again, friends, we find a societal issue where far too many are firmly entrenched on a supposed right or left. The solution is not compromise. The solution is to dissipate man-created, partisan opinion and do what we are individually called to do.
What are we called to do?
Feed. Give. Invite. Clothe. Care for. And visit.
If we do one without the other — even though the call for individual social provision is actually historically, biblically beseeched — then something is missing in our mission…
… most likely something that is prudent and wise.