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.James 1:27
The word “visit” means to look out for and to relieve. In other words, you visit them to asses or inspect their needs and fulfill them.
It’s used to talk about those that visited the sick in Matthew 25, God visiting Israel through Jesus (Luke 1:68), and it is used of Paul wanting to go and check on the churches (Acts 15:36).
True/ Pure/ Undefiled religion is taking care of those who are powerless to take care of themselves.
This is the exact opposite (and the way to defeat) the root of all evil: the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10).
The widow and the orphan are representative of those who cannot care for themselves as others can. In the first century, this basically meant most people who weren’t an adult male.
We must use wisdom in determining who would fit into this category today and do our best to care for them.
We can take a brief glance at our world today and see just how taking care of the fatherless can solve a lot of problems. First, Paul says that the one who doesn’t provide for their family has denied the faith (1 Timothy 5:8). Consider how many young men and women are fatherless, not because their father died, but because he abandoned them.
These children, to help their mother provide food, shelter, and clothes, or to find a sense of community, may turn to selling drugs, participating in gang activity, prostitution, etc.
Are they accountable for their actions? Yes. But the way to solve this is to practice true religion as James says.
Now, how does this relate to the love of money?
We live in a world where 99% of the wealth is controlled by 1% of the people. Jesus condemns selfish hoarding of wealth all throughout his ministry. These are people who could solve these problems but refuse which means that the church needs to lead the charge in stepping in by participating in mentor programs, adoption or supporting those who can, providing healthcare, and voting for those who will make changes to provide for the fatherless and the widow.
Let’s look at one major problem in the country: abortion.
75% of the women who had an abortion in 2014, for example, came from low-income households. So, in what ways could visiting the fatherless and the widow change this number? I’ll let you decide.
The love of money is the root of ALL evil. Have we been flipping over the wrong tables?
Jesus ate at the table with the harlot and sinner (people who had been forgotten by the “religious” folk of his day). But he flipped over the tables of those who, through allegiance with Rome, created a system that drove men and women into a situation that they probably didn’t want to be in to start with.
This is why Jesus condemned those that built bigger barns, but he was constantly forgiving those who were victims of the society in which they lived, those that wanted to live God-centered lives but felt as if there was no other way. Jesus, on the other hand, praised people like Zacchaeus who went above and beyond to right any wrongs that they could.
We, like Jesus, need to flip over the right tables in our society and eat with those that are victims of the world in which they live.