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God’s Prescribed Religion

Text: James  1:27

Dr Alex Tang

“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

James the blood brother or half brother of Jesus is an interesting character. The other blood brothers of Jesus are Joses, Judas and Simon and a few sisters whose names were not recorded. (Matt 13:55;Mark 6:3; John 7:5) What a story James has to tell. Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, James has rejected his brother’s messianic ministry. I am sure there is some sibling rivalry there. At one point when people were declaring Jesus ‘has gone out of his mind’. James with his mother, his brothers and sisters had tried to ‘restrain him’ and try to take him home! Jesus rejected this embarassing action of his family by declaring “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:21,31-35)

Yet when the disciples are gathered to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, we are astonished to discover James to be among them (Acts 1:14). And we find that in a few short years, he is regarded as a ‘pillar’ of the church and eventually wrote the epistle of James.

What do you think happened to James? What makes James the unbeliever to James the church leader. My belief is that this change is affected by the personal appearance of  Jesus to his younger brother after his resurrection from the dead. 1 Cor 15:7 notes that Jesus appeared to James, then to all the apostles….It is the only post resurrection appearance we know of that Jesus appears to someone who do not believe in him. And what a change in James. His whole worldview changed as evidenced in his epistle. His greatest influence is rooted in his profound devotion. Eusebius, a Christian historian records that James “used to enter alone into the temple and be found kneeling and praying for forgiveness for the people, so that his knees grew hard like a camel’s”. The children must have called him ‘Old Camel Knee’. The Christians called him James the Just. It is this devotion and understanding that lead him to write:

“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” (NIV)

The Amplified Bible states “ External religious worship (religion as it is expressed in outward acts) that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.”

 

                                                                                                                                                   Soli Deo Gloria

 

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