James 1:27 - "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."
I find myself going back to this Scripture time and time again when talking about what we as Christians should be doing with ourselves during our time on this earth. People talk about reaching the lost, about being witnesses to the world, and all those catchy phrases that sound so noble; what the heck are they saying? What does that mean? Denomination after denomination has their own brand of what it means to carry out the Great Commission, but yet so few take in to account what James says in his letter here. This, my friends, is quite sad considering the thing is so small and yet contains so much truth. We cannot discount these words as merely an additional perspective, but instead should base the foundation of our approach on it. Paul writes to the Family with clarifications about what is and isn't acceptable ways to conduct ourselves, but nothing he says contradicts what James writes about in his letter!
Is it not clear then, that we are to be doing this work for the Lord? That we are to look out for the orphans and take of the widows in their time of need, what about that is so challenging? Oh yeah, I remember... It doesn't involve big rallies with loud music and flashing lights, nor does it mean that we're in the spotlight soaking up the attention of our peers and friends. No, this means we'd be in the background. We may not be known by name, and we'll never be celebrities, but that would be so much better than what we're known for now (image). Let's face it, our reputation as hypocritical cloud-sniffing nuts is well-earned. The fact is that we cannot change this image ourselves, but we must further embrace the Christ-like lifestyle which is laid out for us in Scripture and it is only by the Holy Spirit we can succeed at this. We cannot sit back and let things continue the way they have been. Things are not business as usual, unless you want to watch our generation become an apathetic and uselessly numb group of deceived individuals who think they have it all figured out.
The part many of us take for granted is the second part of the verse, "and to keep [one]self unspotted by the world." The greatest deception which many Christians fall into, at least from my observation, is to think that we have this one in the bag. The idea that we could possibly have that concept completely unraveled and applied to our daily lives would be to suggest we are in perfect union with Christ and no longer sin. Folks, I feel like there is so much about the command to keep ourselves untainted by the world that I still don't understand.
For example, I personally have a very rough vocabulary. I drop profanities like the US drops bombs, that is to say quite frequently and without much provocation. This is not something I'm proud of, because frankly it's rather unprofessional and makes me sounds less intelligent than I am in actuality. This Scripture strongly indicates to me that this concept of not being tainted by the world means that I shouldn't talk like the rest of the world. It's hard though, to drop a bad habit when surrounded by people who have that habit themselves. It's like trying to dry a hand towel by hanging it up on a rack at the bottom of a swimming pool. That is why we all need a group of friends who are spiritually running in the same direction as you. Are there others among your group that struggle with profanity? Hold each other accountable! Sometimes it's enough to be in the presence of those you know who don't appreciate foul language, as was the case when I was with my InterVarsity friends; I found myself using profanities a lot less after spending time with them. Other times, it may take a few dedicated friends who will commit to kicking your sorry behind every time you use a word you shouldn't have. It may take some spiritual renewal, get into the Scripture and study it. Often times our language reflects where we're at spiritually in our hearts (Luke 6:45), and I will be the first to admit that I have not been in the best of places the past several months.
We can be more than this. The question is will we follow the Simple Way?
We be forever lovin' Jah-Yeshua,