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Journey with John

A Rabbi and a soap maker went for a walk.  The soap maker asked, “What good is religion?  Look at the trouble and misery of the world after thousands of years of teaching about goodness, truth, and peace. If religion is so good for people, why should this be?”  The Rabbi said nothing.   They continued walking until he noticed a child playing in the gutter.  The Rabbi said, “Look at that child; you say that soap makes people clean, but see the dirt on that child?  Of what good is soap?  With all the soap in the world, the boy is still filthy.  I wonder – how effective is soap?”  The soap maker protested and said, “But Rabbi, soap can’t do any good unless it is used.”  “Exactly,” replied the Rabbi.  “So it is with religion.”  (From “Stories for Sharing” by Charles Arcodia)

This wise story sings a great truth about religious faith.  It is of little use if it is not used.  In the case of the bar of soap, it is virtually useless as long as it stays in the soap dish.  I knew a woman who kept some fancy rose-shaped soap bars on her bathroom counter.  They sat there for like eleven years – nicely preserved but ROBBED of their intended purpose.  Even those fancy rose-shaped soaps were designed to clean away the dirt life brings.  As long as they just sat, they did no one any good.  Soap was designed to clean the dirt away.  In the process, it brings shiny clean bodies to filthy, mud-caked children.  And, it’s necessary that it be used every day!  Day after day that soap gets used.  Day after day, it gets smaller because of it.  The soap literally rubs off on those dirty kids and makes them clean.  That’s a miracle in my book.  And when that bar of soap is near the point of being used up, a new one is close at hand to meet the daily challenges of the dirt.

We live in a dirty world.  There’s too much greed, too much anger, too much envy, violence, hate – the list is long – for us to not get soiled from time to time.  How NECESSARY is our religious faith for it cleanses us!  It teaches us generosity, humility, peace, love, joy (the list is long!).  But if our faith is carefully put away after worship on Sunday, stored away until the next religious outing, what good does it do us?  Our religious faith must be used day by day, moment by moment, if we are to remain clean in such a dirty world.  An interesting thing about this thing called faith is that the more it is used and worn and exercised, the STRONGER and more VIBRANT it becomes.  That’s a miracle in my book!  Religious faith can’t do any good unless it is used.  How will you exercise your faith this week?

Love,   Pastor John