August 27

James 1:22-27

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” vs. 27

James cuts to the chase in his first century letter to believers. Already he was aware of those who used religion as a facade, as a societal means to improve their own standing. It’s nothing new! We know what he’s talking about–while about 70% of Americans claim to be Christian, only about 20% worship weekly. In fact, the majority of Americans never bother to worship at all. Yet we continue to claim we are a Christian nation! Of course, “going to church” hardly serves as a marker of an authentic follower of Jesus. What really counts for James is how well we care for widows and orphans in their distress–and being unstained by the world. He mentions widows and orphans because they were the ones who fell through the cracks in the economic system of his day. We could add others to the list. Times have not gotten any easier for the needy in the world. There are more refugees now than any other time in history. Millions are hungry and desperate for assistance. And true believers of all religions are in this world to provide care for them by any means possible: legislation, housing, refugee resettlement, hunger relief. And that is happening! James would be pleased to see what people of faith are doing–they’re doers of the word and not just hearers!

Thought for the Day: What’s my favorite relief organization? Why?

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