«Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God» (2 Corinthians 7:1).
IN 2 CORINTHIANS 7, the apostle Paul encourages the church toward purity and affection. He recognizes that he himself is going through tribulations, but always feels comforted in his afflictions. Paul mentions two factors that helped him face his afflictions: the arrival of his friend Titus and the affection of the church.
Paul also feels satisfaction because the Corinthians were gentle and kind to his friend and collaborator Titus. The chapter ends with these beautiful words: Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything» (v. 16). The apostle’s disposition is noteworthy: despite his ordeals, he sees everything with joy, strengthens his relationships with his brothers and sisters in the faith, trusts them, and emphasizes a religion put into practice.
When Jesus wanted to highlight this same theme, He told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Both the priest and the Levite, representatives of the «religious» class according to their customs, carried on their wrist or their neck a parchment made of leather with the moto of their religion:
«Love God above all things and your neighbor as yourself.»
The problem was that they did not have this message etched on their heart or in their daily life. Surprisingly, a Samaritan, who did not have the appearance of being religious, was truly religious.
Let us make a simple application of this parable adapted to our time. A person was traveling from the capital of a city to a poor neighborhood, and as he left the city, thieves caught him, stripped him of all he had, injured him, and left him for dead.
A short while later, the director of a well-respected church passed by, but he did not stop; he had urgent theological matters to attend to. A few minutes later, another prestigious religious person arrived, glanced sideways at the man, and went on her way; important administrative and ceremonial matters awaited her. Finally, a common man approached. He was not wearing religious clothing and did not seem educated, much less wealthy.
But he stopped, showed interest, provided first aid, offered what he had at hand, took the man to a medical center, and paid for all the fees in his recovery.
We need more religious people in work clothes.
True religion is not measured by how much we know about the Bible or how many ceremonies we practice.
True religion is evident by how much we love and serve our neighbor.