“True religion is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Seeing the picture above had the same kind of jarring effect I imagine the parables of Jesus had on those who heard them. “This is your true religion,” says the picture, and right away I recognize with shock that it is true. This is so far from the stories I want to name me, and yet this is where I have come. Maybe I’m not a jean hound or a shop-a-holic, but in so many other ways I have forsaken care of others in favor of my own faulty sense of what I need.
I slip into habits in my Christian walk as easily as I slip into a pair of jeans. I need a faith that is insistent, that cracks and crashes through the dullness of my self-centered living with a call to be more and better who Christ calls me to be. In Mystery and Manners, Flannery O’Connor says: “To the hard of hearing, you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.”
So what is the job of the preacher, the writer, the theologian today? To shout, to draw large and startling figures in the hopes that people will at last understand, that with practice we will all learn to hear and to see … that one day, with the practiced discipline of sincerity, there is a grace that may become so much a part of us it seeps into our every action almost without thought. A grace that fits with the comfort and familiarity of an old pair of jeans.