Flights of Faith

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Happens When It's All Connected?

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

In my world, one group desires justice and one group wants to avoid the ways of this world. James says both and seems to connect the two together as a practice. I'm often stuck between communities who use a rhetoric of justice and people who have a category of "pollutants" and stay away from them. James pushes us with his language. What if justice has to be more than rhetoric, bumper stickers, facebook groups, desires, and even future ambition? What if it has to be now? And what if the pollutants of this world is anything that prevents you from helping orphans and windows? It could be your current budget that prioritizes movies, the amount of time you spend with church folks in safe spaces, the unhealthy relationship you have with your partner, and the way your critique encourages fear of action.

This verse is burning in me right now. Haven't we heard this before? People desiring faith and a connection with God, but hating what they see as options. Are we even living out a desirable path for ourselves let alone others? It seems like there's a virus infecting us to divide the call for justice and holiness. Their paths are connected and each corrects the extreme version we might have been offended by in the past.

Justice is not stringent ideology without human connection. It is rooted in an extension of the family of God. We cannot love our neighbors without knowing them. We cannot truly celebrate any changes in their legal or systemic condition without being connected to their communities.

Holiness is not a dress code or moral perfection. It is the understanding that God is not confused; God is still God: pure and true. Holiness aims to let us share in that clarity instead of being lost. We can build practices that will help clarify our life through the lens of God, so we do not become polluted to the fact that our true call is to love God and to love neighbor.

They work together. Try being present with someone when your personal life is a mess. You can't. Try caring about an issue, when you don't even know the people surrounding it. You feel fake. We cannot be satisfied with a divided gospel or a divided self.

Abba God, help us integrate our lives with your people and remove this persistent confusion that surrounds us.