Fast For Freedom Day 37 – Orphans and Widows #IWFF Day 37

This season of lent, follow along with the Fast For Freedom. Participate by sharing, praying, fasting, or giving to raise awareness about global slavery. Download the 40 day devotional for free here. Share your own thoughts and prayers in the comments, and be challenged to take action in the movement for Freedom.

“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.” James 1:27

Today’s devotion reminds us of the two parts of ‘pure and faultless’ religion. I like how author Hank Vogue puts it, religion being broken into two parts: the disciple’s impact on the world and the world’s impact on the disciple. 

With so many misunderstandings about religion in today’s world, breaking it down to some very simple concepts is refreshing for me as a follower of Jesus. Religion that is acceptable to God is first and foremost about our care of those who are orphaned, widowed, and in what would be classified as ‘at-risk’ positions in the world. Secondly, God’s concern is for us to stay unpolluted by the world. Often when we attempt to stay ‘unpolluted’ we focus on removing ourselves from those parts of society that would taint us. But actually God’s call is for us to be among those who are vulnerable. When working with victims of human trafficking, I have often seen things that have in a sense ‘polluted’ my mind. On the other hand, being among those whose lives are so vulnerable has also allowed me to see God’s goodness in the darkest circumstances. Religion at it’s most beautiful is when we show love to those in difficult circumstances!

The author from today talks about keeping oneself unpolluted by the world by focusing on God’s perfect law: “The two parts of the definition intertwine here.  By helping the orphan and the widow—by following God’s law—God’s disciple ingrains the law into his heart and shields himself from the world’s influence.”

Finally, he discusses the freedom found from obedience to God’s law. We talk a lot about freedom here, physical freedom, but also spiritual freedom. Our modern understanding of religion is often in direct opposition of freedom. Religion in today’s world often ends up looking like striving to match unreasonable standards. Scripture paints a different picture of religion, one where we work towards the balance of showing love to those in distress and looking up to goodness and purity exemplified in God’s perfect law. Realising we will never achieve the standards of remaining entirely unpolluted, but finding instead freedom when we are willing to step into call of pure religion covered by the grace of Jesus Christ.

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