Saturday, May 27, 2017

Forgotten Standards?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This began as a Facebook status...then I thought, no, it should be a Note...nah, let's do a blog post...
The 3 + 1 reading had me beginning James today. Chapter 1. I'll be honest, reading along, I began to wonder if modern American Christianity has forgotten that this book is in the canon...

... each one is tempted when, by his own evil desires, he is dragged away and enticed. ( v. 14b)

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (v. 21-22) 

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (v. 26)

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.  (v. 27)

I've taught James a number of least three different class years of Christian Women's Job Corps,  in a ladies' small group at church, and I linked up the notes in the blog a few years back (see sidebar, 'Previous Bible Studies'). But this time, James' use of the word 'religion' caught my eye...what did he mean by 'religion'?  

They are variants of  the word threskia - Strong's 2356 - which means 'Religious worship, especially outward ceremonies; religious discipline, religion'.  It's only used two other times in the entire New Acts 26:5, Paul, giving his testimony, states '...according to the the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee,' and  in Col. 2:18, where Paul warns against being influenced by folks who 'delight in...the worship of angels'.

'Religion', then, is not a hot topic in the New Testament.  James' use of it here really doesn't involve the  concept of  'accepting the word planted in you, which can save you'.  In fact, it's really not talking about salvation at all, but of just going through the motions of religious activity for personal gratification.   I could paraphrase it this way...

'If anyone considers himself successful in his adherence to the rituals of worship, but doesn't watch his in to the temptation to put people down, curse, gossip,  break confidence, lie, etc... he's just fooling himself and the rituals are meaningless. The disciplines that God considers pure are to take care of widows and orphans and to refuse to be influenced by the culture that dishonors Him.'

 Worship, then, is best expressed by caring for others and by resisting the influence of those who do not fear God.

Where, then, does the current philosophy that insists that Christianity must change to suit the culture fit?  Christianity cannot be separated from Christian morality.  It just doesn't work.

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