The Way He Sees It
May 30, 2023
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27 NLT
How would you define a “good Christian”? It’s funny how we all have certain stereotypes in our minds. We see a family pray over a meal at a restaurant and make instant conclusions. Someone posts a Scripture on social media, and regardless of if the Scripture is uplifting, welcoming, or shared with an obviously critical spirit, the person likely gets unconscious points in the spiritual column. We look at how well we think their beliefs align with correct doctrine. We factor in church membership. We are influenced by the way they dress and their habits, perhaps whether or not they drink alcohol. There are many things that may impact our conclusions.
James, the brother of our Lord Jesus, has a simple and clear explanation of God’s standard for our “religion.” He should know. He doesn’t consider the superficial appearances that may look good to us. He says it boils down to two actions. The first is active compassion—caring for, carrying the burdens of the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Even more so than now, the widows and orphans were alone in the world. There were no social programs to provide the most basic necessities of life. Today around the world the situations are exactly the same. If caring individuals don’t step in with compassion, they are left alone with aching, life-threatening needs. In our own nation, we have the social welfare programs that do much to alleviate the most basic needs, but they don’t handle the hole in the heart of every human for a relationship with God and people who love them. Christians reaching out in the name of Jesus do that.
The second part is closely connected. Refusing to let the world corrupt you doesn’t mean withdrawing from the activities of life, living as a sort of monk or hermit or a privatized sect. The corruption of the world that affects us is the mental influence on our perception of success; on the values we absorb and allow to direct our lives. We are corrupted by the world when we think life is about us and what we need and want. We are corrupted by the world when we define success by the things we own, the applause and notice we get, the things we accomplish for ourselves. We are corrupted by the world when we have the ME focus and live for me and mine. When we are more about getting than giving, we have been corrupted by the world.
Pure religion, a relationship without smudges and stains on it, is found in the person who truly loves others as Jesus has loved him. She realizes everything she has is a gift, not intended to be simply enjoyed and consumed, but to be shared with those in need. He walks through the world with eyes like Jesus, looking for the ignored, needy, and broken he can help. She sees everyone as her neighbor, someone God loves and for whom Jesus died. That’s the standard.
- How does God see the way you evaluate your “religion”?