“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.”
We get the orphans and widows part. That’s why we support orphanages, celebrate adoptions, and love on widows who keep coming to church even when the music gets too loud for their tastes.
But “keep oneself from being polluted by the world?” That’s different.
That implies, first of all, that the world — not so much the physical creation in which we live but the values, attitudes, and philosophies that surround us — is infected with soul pollution. James regards that as accepted fact without need of explanation. I suspect that those of us who watch television, read the newspaper, or log on to the internet would agree.
So how do we keep ourselves from being polluted by a polluting world?
It’s not enough simply to guard your mind and shield your eyes.
To keep yourself free from pollution, you will want to fill your mind with its opposite: beauty. God’s beauty.
What’s your reading list like? Does it include a heavy dose of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? What’s on your iPod? Do you fill it with some of the glorious songs we’ve been singing on Sunday? And what’s on your viewing schedule? Programs that ask nothing of your mind or programs that engage and interest?
It’s why Paul is yet again a marvelous complement to James. Look at Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — let your mind dwell on these things.
That’s the best antitode to world pollution yet.