Saturday 16 March

26If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

What does it mean for me to keep myself “unstained by the world”?

The “world” is a metaphor used frequently throughout the New Testament to refer to life that is organized without any reference to the hidden reality we call “God”. This is not a reference to creation, or mere physical existence. It is a way of being. When I am “in the world”, I am living with myself as the only reference point. My choices, actions, thoughts, and decisions all circulate around the tiny spot of my own little life. I am the centre of my universe. It is a small pinched way to live.

The “stain” of the world is the approach to life that seeks to control all my circumstances to bring about my desired outcomes. When I am “stained” by the world, I seek to exert my power against anything that gets in my way and inevitably resort to violence in an attempt to assert my will over life. When I am “unstained by the world” I am free of this attitude that is concerned only for my individual life and determined at all costs to get what I think I want.

When I give into the seductive voice of “the world” I deceive my “heart.” This is such an important concept. In order to go the way of “the world”, my “heart” needs to be “deceived,” because the truth is, my heart knows better.

My “heart” understands that true life lies not in getting my way but living in the deep stream of love that flows out to the rest of the world in care and compassion.  It is my “heart” that leads me to “care for orphans and widows in their distress,” and thus live more fully in tune with the person I was created to be.