Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, April 10, 2016
This Week’s Devotional Focus is, “Pure Religion.”
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:22–27).
The Bible brilliantly puts an end to our seemingly endless rounds of arguments, pithy sayings, misleading idioms, political debates, and circular reasoning concerning religion. We need not fear the word or principle of religion. We need not avoid religion like some plague, congratulating ourselves because we believe we have transcended it in order to have a “relationship” with God. The Bible actually links pure religion with a relationship with God and people, thereby dismantling the argument that all religion is impractical and unspiritual.
I will admit that unmentionable heinous acts have been committed under the pretense of religion. One of the most notable among many was a 1,260 year massacre of so-called dissenters and heretics whom the false church of Bible prophecy tortured and destroyed with impunity. This was all done in the name of religion. We have seen news reports, online videos, and experienced in our large cities, the effects of misguided religionists who take out their fury on those who do not agree with their worldview. Yet, these extreme practitioners no more cast aspersion on the genuine article of religion than do counterfeit money devalue real currency. It simply says at least two things. First, pure religion is of so much value that the devil redirects as many people as possible to his version like a renegade hacker with an axe to grind. 2.We must be doubly sure we are living according to God’s pure model of religion so we can rightly represent Him at all times
Our theme text links this pure religion to how we relate to the downtrodden among us. It links pure religion with having control of one’s words. It links pure religion with actually being obedient to the principles outlined in God’s law, rather than simply observing their validity or existence. Simply put, God is interested in us living religion that relieves suffering, practices self-control, and lives according to the principles of God’s law.
As we zoom in to take a closer look at certain religious and social issues this week, please do not allow the counterfeits to cause you to lose your relish for religion in its purity.