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Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Edifier du Jour-James 1:22-29(NASB)
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Going to church and cracking open the Bible is easy compared to befriending the friendless. I was moved this morning by this John Adams piece on his 18th birthday (quite a future to be played out with this guy)
I've known this girl for years, but never really talked to her. She was always really quiet and kind of removed, her parents have religious beliefs that don't resemble mine too closely, and I found myself sucked into the trap of trying to be like the cool kids. Reading her words made me remember all the nights I cried myself to sleep because I couldn't find acceptance. I used to crave the acceptance that she seeks now. Why is it that even those who have spent years on the outside looking in betray those left outside once they are admitted to stand by the communal fire? Is it so much to open the door every so often? To share another's pain? By and large, from what I have seen, and felt myself, most would say yes. It is too much effort to reach out. But for Christians, it is not an option. The world is full of hurting, lonely, depressed people. I should know, I used to be one of them. We as Christians do not have a choice between reaching out and not reaching out. Our lives should be nothing but reaching out, empathizing, and sharing in one another's joys and pains; in short, being like Christ. As a society, Americans tend to be a people absorbed with themselves. I ask you to examine yourself, and see if there is any way you could better serve those around you. As for me, I have failed my friend for the last 2 years. I implore you not to make the same mistake.
I added the italics in the second paragraph; I have been there too, John. I can remember the first week of my sophomore year in high school, when one of the easiest-to-tease kids in school decided to sit at my lunch table; he was short, a bit overweight and looked like something two or three steps back down one of those Ascent of Man charts. I got more than my share of teasing in junior high; my fist thought was that having Dave there would make that table a magnet for all the immature jerks at Midland High. I didn't know the Lord at the time, but I didn't have the heart to walk off on this guy; the sensitivity that had made me that teasing target had its godly side. Dave died in 1991, but we were best friends for the preceding decade and a half. Had I gone with my lesser instincts, I'd have walked off on him and left him to his lonely self. Instead, I found an intellectual playmate, spending a lot of time talking on the thing we'd be blogging about today. How many Daves are at your school? Your workplace? Your church? Yes, church; you get a lot of people who aren't rich and pretty that need people to befriend them. Reading John's piece, Elenor Rigby's refrain "All the lonely people; where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?" came to mind. To borrow from another 60s song, you can reach out and touch somebody's hand and give them a place to belong. That is true religion, not going to church or putting in a big tithe check.

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