Religion. This word invokes a wide range of negative reactions and emotions in our culture today. It is common to hear the word “religion” followed by the word “hypocrisy.”
With all the negative connotations surrounding religion, is it even possible to have a religion the outside world would consider pure and faultless?
I think it is safe to say, most Christians are at least vaguely familiar with the call and connection to care for orphans and widows found throughout the Bible. So why would God choose to connect caring for orphans and widows to such a negative term found in our culture today?
Simply put, it is just as counter intuitive today to care for the most vulnerable as it was for the early church.
James 1:27 tells us, “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.”
So when the world expects religion to look judgmental, self-seeking and self-promoting, God says there is an answer: caring for those who can do nothing for you and can give nothing back to you. Who can argue with religion like this?
An example of this is taking place in East Asia through the ministry of Global Partners.
In this culture where the gospel is illegal and the stigma on children with special needs is very real, Christians are willingly stepping into the lives of orphans and caring for them.
Orphaned and vulnerable children who are on the brink of death are being brought into Christian foster homes and being nurtured back to life. Non-believers are asking “why”?
Again, it is counter intuitive to care for children whom the culture has discarded as useless. When religion goes beyond cultural norms and becomes pure and faultless, people are curious.
When the love of the gospel becomes so evident through our care for the most vulnerable, it creates a dynamic where the lost desire to know about a God who will love them in the same way. Revival has taken place in East Asian churches through their unselfish care for orphans.
Wesleyans around the world have the opportunity to replicate this unselfish, gospel-centered care for the most vulnerable. God, in his infinite wisdom, made no mistake. He took a word the world sees as negative and gave us the opportunity to make it pure and faultless. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ!