Jump Start # 3342
James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
I attended a high school graduation the other day. It was for one of our seniors here in our church family. I’d not been to a high school graduation since my kids graduated and that has been a long time ago. It was a small school and I was surprised to hear both the school principle and the district superintendent refer to Bible verses. It was refreshing, especially in our current cultural climate.
The superintendent in his speech talked about the growing concern of AI among administrators. He said the information was fast and thorough but it was not referenced. There wasn’t a way to verify or check the accuracy of the information. Sources aren’t cited. From that, he talked about authenticity and being an authentic person to the graduating seniors. He detailed practical ways to be a genuine person.
In a world of fake news, artificial intelligence, there is something to be said about being the real deal. Authentic. Genuine. Real. There are a lot of people who put more emphasis upon the outside than the inside. Looking good, being impressive, staying in style, while there is no substance, compass, morals on the inside, is all show. It’s fake. It’s not being genuine.
Here are some things to consider:
First, our faith in the Lord must be genuine. Our love, passion and walk with the Lord must be as strong when we are alone as it is when we are sitting among others in the church building. If it is not, that will quickly lead to hypocrisy, which is nothing more than a fake faith. It doesn’t take much wind to blow over a faith that is not real. Praying when there is no one around, reading Scriptures, just because, are the steps that will lead to a real and honest faith.
Our verse today defines pure and undefiled religion. The NIV uses the expressions, “pure and faultless.” And, what God considers that genuine faith is illustrated in both a positive and negative in this passage. In the positive fashion, you are helping those who cannot help themselves. Orphans and widows in distress need help. And, it’s those with that genuine, pure, undefiled religion that are going to step up and help out. But, in the negative fashion, that pure religion keeps itself from the world. The world stains. It stains our soul, sours our attitudes and ruins our destiny.
What our passage shows us is that the religion that God is interested in is much more than talk. It’s not a Sunday only deal. It’s more than just worship. It’s pure. It’s authentic. It’s the real deal.
Second, our fellowship and our friendship must be genuine. Our love and concern for one another must grow from within our hearts and be expressed in the way we care for each other. One can quickly tell when people at church love each other or they merely tolerate one another. Genuine means one will stick with each other through thick and thin. Genuine means that one will be there in the hard times. Genuine means that we are locked arm in arm with one another.
Third, our love for the lost must be genuine. If it is not, then the walls close in, the doors are shut and we become a secret member only society that doesn’t want anyone else in. Evangelism is built upon our love for all. All are made in the image of God. Red, yellow, black and white—God made all and we must love all. The broken. The hurting. The confused. Anyone and everyone ought to be welcomed by the people of God. Genuine love. It’s not about building a larger congregation. It’s about pointing souls to Heaven. It’s helping where one can help.
The opposite of genuine is fake. One sees in stores, genuine leather. It’s not fake. Knock off purses are very good at looking like the originals, but they are not. There may be some that are nothing more than knock-off Christians. They may talk a good game. They may be in the right places on Sunday, but it’s the insides that determine whether they are genuine or not.
Authentic in a world of fakes…