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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Real Religion: A Short Meditation on James 1.26-27


James wrote: “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (1.26-27). If we have true religion, then our religion is not just ritual, but it is also real, regulating, respectful & resourceful (Watch how James’s point works out in 2.1-9, reinforcing this little mediation).

Ritual: The very things we do in our worship gatherings week after week, in word, sacraments, and prayer, punctuated with singing Psalms, hymns & spiritual songs, follow order and decorum so that we don’t blunder into God’s presence slipshod and superficial.

Real: Our ritual splashes out from Sunday into Monday and beyond. No part-time, once-a-week religion but a full-time faith and an around the clock faithfulness.

Regulating: Our ritualized, real religion governs our lips, so that we hush-up and bite our tongues when we ought, and we open our mouths to say what’s true and right at the right time (1 Peter 3.8-12).

Respectful: Our ritualized religion fosters civility because how can we go about telling God we adore Him while we rail against those who are made in His image (James 2.8-12)?

Resourceful: We are cared for by God to care for others. Our time soaking in the lavish goodness of God on Sunday in His worship, lifts our hearts to show the same kindness and graciousness to other people.

So expect that what you sing, say, hear, pray, eat and drink on the Lord’s Day will have everything to do with the way you act every other day. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

Mike

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