Pure Religion = Be the Church

James 1:27 says this:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this; to visit orphans and widows in their trouble  and keep oneself unspotted from the world.  (NKJV)

The phrase "pure religion" is an interesting one.  Normally, most evangelical Christians avoid the term religion like the plague.  The world has a taste of hypocrisy about it, it's almost an insult.  "Oh, he's so religious!"  You might as well call someone a Pharisee.

But James was very specific in this.  The Greek word threskeia means not a personal religious view, but a religious expression or demonstration; in other words worship.  So a more literal translation might be "Real worship, the kind that is not considered a filthy rag by God, is when we reach out to those in need, and help relieve the burdens they carry.  And to not let the world take us away from that mission."

In other words, be the church.  We see in Acts that even the very early church was concerned with feeding the poor.  Jesus never said "Blessed are those who sit behind walls on Sunday mornings and sing."  And James tells us that if we don't do something with our faith, then our faith is dead.  This isn't a salvation thing; it's a love thing.

I'm proud of my church this month.  Last month, in a moment of inspiration, I challenged each of our cell groups to this: find something that you can do, as a group, by the end of the year, that impacts the community, and makes someone's life better. Many of the groups have taken up the gauntlet.  We have a group of college-age women who will be volunteering at a local shelter, serving meals.  Another group is working with the elderly.  Our children's and youth groups are teaming up to collect items for a local rescue mission this Christmas.  Last night we had a big discussion that went from missions to child sponsorship to community outreach.  The Kingdom is on the move.

So please, don't just sit by this Christmas.  Get out there and do something.  And why not let us know what you're doing in the comments?


  1. That's a good provocation.

    Worth considering that James was writing from a Jewish perspective, so in his eyes religion that many of us might considered unhealthy could well have met with his approval. However you've taken a deeper look at the scripture and drawn a good and useful conclusion that makes it much more acceptable and useful to modern eyes.


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