The old gospel tune went like this: “Give me that ole time religion, give me that ole time religion, give me that ole time religion, it’s good enough for me.”
James speaks of a kind of religion good enough for God. “Religion that is pure and undefiled BEFORE GOD, THE FATHER, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27, emphasis added). The only brand of religion good enough for you and me ought to be the kind that God judges with superlatives like “pure” and “undefiled.”
The writer leaves no doubt. Two things mark religion good enough for God: merciful treatment towards the down and out and godly behavior unstained by worldliness and sin.
The down and out include orphans and widows – those who have lost their normal means of family support and now left to themselves. We are to VISIT them. That doesn’t just mean drop by the orphanage or house and say hello. It means to bring to bear resources and help that contribute to the alleviation of their misery. The same concept occurs in the Old Testament when it says God visits His people with salvation (Psalm 106:4). The term “visit” has massive implications for a robust Christianity that moves into the lives of those the world often deems as insignificant and unworthy of attention.
I have been praying for some time now that the Lord would open the door to practice some measure of this brand of priceless religion with my neighbor across the street. Darlene lost her husband to cancer a couple of years back. Months ago OGC offered to paint her house as a mercy ministry project. It didn’t work out at the time, but recently she asked me if the offer still stood. I checked with the leadership team at our last meeting and they assured me it did. Here’s is a picture of her place.
It desperately needs a paint job. My vision is to “visit” this house with an extreme makeover cosmetically speaking in two to three weeks time. I intend to canvas the neighborhood for volunteers so that some of them will prep and paint along side some of the good folks from OGC.
More details will follow in this blog and our church e-news.
May the Lord allow us to let our light shine before others, so that they might see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16).