June 12, 2019
The dictionary defines religion as “a particular system of beliefs and practices.” Latest statistics say there are approximately 4,200 different religions in the world, each with their own rules and standards. Each of them believes their particular system and collection of rules for belief and behavior is the one that pleases God. Does God ever weigh in on this?
James, the brother of Jesus Christ, says he does. James doesn’t mention what we need to believe in order to meet God’s standard. But he hits our actions hard. The very first action he says that describes “real religion, the kind that passes muster with God,” is intentional care for the homeless and loveless; the ones in desperate need. Further, James says to “reach out” to them—initiate care, don’t just respond if they have the ability and confidence to ask. Take the initiative.
He also tells us religion that meets God’s standard is to guard ourselves against corruption from the godless world. Of course, this requires a deliberate and active commitment to pure and clean living. But part of the corruption that defines our world is the callous disregard for others; the dog-eat-dog lack of concern for the aching hopelessness and anguish of the people around us. Religion that meets God’s standard maintains a tender heart that rushes to help those in need.
So the question becomes, “Am I simply a religious person: one who adheres to a system of beliefs and a checklist, like countless other people in 4,200 religions? Or am I a follower of Jesus with a commitment that matches up to God’s standards and meets with His approval, reaching out to the “homeless and loveless in their plight”? It matters.
- Who around you do you already see and know who fits the description of “homeless and loveless”?
- Do you make consistent, intentional efforts to involve yourself in making a difference in their situations? If you do not, how do you deliberately excuse yourself from responsibility?
- When you look at your investments of prayer concern, resources, and time in caring for the homeless and loveless in their plight, how would you describe God’s evaluation of your “religion”?
- Talk to God about what your time with Him has shown you.