Pure Religion – James 1:27
Most people have heard the warning to avoid the topics of politics and religion in social settings and family gatherings. When we turn on the television, we hear of terrorists killing Christians and Jews in the name of religion. Religion has the potential to be among the most divisive words known to man. You can even look within the Christian community and find faithful followers who embrace Jesus, but renounce religion. And throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus there are seemingly countless examples of Jesus condemning the religious leaders of that time. But Jesus was not condemning religion. What he condemned was the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, as evidenced by their outward observation of the law, but inward spiritual void. In essence, they had defiled religion. So if that is what defiled religion looks like, what does undefiled (faultless) religion look like? And what kind of religion is pleasing to God our Father?
The Word of God answers that question. James 1:27 says this about religion – “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.” So with that divinely painted picture of pure and faultless religion, we must each ask ourselves, ‘How close does that compare to the religion I embrace?’
There is no shortage of lonely, hurting widows. Most nursing home residents are widows, and it is estimated that 60% of nursing home residents have no visitors. Many are starving just for someone who will spend some time with them.
The world has no shortage of orphans either, both within our borders and in other countries. Our church has ties to several orphan-related ministries, and there are ample opportunities to look after orphans in their distress for anyone who is willing.
The final brushstroke in the picture James paints for us of pure and faultless religion is to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. We should honor God, seek to bring Him glory, and not focus on selfish ambitions.