The word “religion” has always had a negative connotation in my growth as a believer. “It is not about being religious, it is about having a relationship,'” I was always taught. A popular song when I was a young Christian declared: “I’m not religious, I just love the Lord.” The word has fallen on hard times. That is why I am surprised and delighted to see James pick it up, dust it off and reclaim it. He writes: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Like it or not the world sees us as a religion. The question James poses is: What kind of religion do they see? Is it a religion brimming with life, eager to help those in need? Or is it a dead religion that is pretty much like the rest of the world… having been polluted by it?
Best selling Christian author David Platt is pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. In his new book, Radical, He writes about how he challenged his church to live out James 1:27. He writes: “…we decided to contact the Department of Human Resources and take responsibility for making sure they had enough families to care for the needy children in our county. They needed 150 families, and within two weeks 160 families from our church signed up for foster care and adoption. Today, all across our faith family, men and women are freeing up space in their homes for foster children, while others are spending their savings and investment accounts on adopting children from Birmingham and around the world.”
This “radical” religion is pleasing in the sight of God. As a dad that took in a foster child for a brief period a few years ago, it brings tears to my eyes to see this church’s courageous attempt to please the heart of the Father.