Yesterday we looked at the complete and utter worthlessness of religious rituals in and of themselves. That might offend people, but hey … that’s God Word, not mine. So on the flip side of the coin then, what does good, pure, undefiled “religion” look like?
That’s not a bad question, is it? A lot of people look at “church”, religion, Christianity from the outside and what they see is, in effect, the trappings of organised religion. The “bells and smells”, the crimson-clad-clergy … and you have to wonder, as I did back in the day, what’s the relevance of all that religious stuff here in the 21st Century, especially when you see the corruption and the institutionalised abuse that has been festering away in organised religion for way too long.
That’s awful stuff and yes, it should be judged harshly but at the same time, at an institutional level, at a local church level, and at an individual level, God’s people are impacting this world for good, for God, in the most amazing way.
James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (ESV)
An interesting and powerful take. Let’s unpack that. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father (whose opinion is, at the end of the day, the only one that matters) is essentially two things.
Showing the love of God in a practical way to those in need – to the widows, the orphans, the poor, the hungry, the marginalised. And at the same time, keeping ourselves unstained from the world – in other words, turning away from sin, living a transformed life, honouring God in thought, word and deed.
Practical love and God-love. That’s what pure and undefiled religion looks like to God.
That’s His Word. Fresh … for you … today.