8.29.2006

real-igion

I've said it before, "religion" doesn't impress me much. Self-righteousness, pomp ceremonies and marginal behavior change don't really mean anything in the end. And a lot of times they're just really annoying.

The Bible doesn't speak too highly of religion either, mainly cause it's all on the outside. Being a Christian—really being a real Christian who truly trusts Jesus as Savior, not just saying you're one—is so much about relationship with the Lord and personally knowing Him, not just a bunch of "doing stuff" or "not doing stuff."

Now, with all that said, James 1:27 really intrigues me. "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." Hmm, so religion of the good type, God's type, is all about helping the helpless who can't give anything back, and doing the right thing instead of the world's thing.

Now I know the second half of that can hang people up, but those same people are often drawn to the first bit.

Take the ONE Campaign. You've got a bunch of people and orgs all getting together to help people who need it most, those who are impoverished primarily in Africa. And people have really responded to that. I'm especially happy that World Vision is involved with this, and they highly influenced me to join (and wear my white band for a while there).

I've promoted another non-Christian page called The Hunger Site, where you can donate sponsor paid food just by clicking once a day. The cool thing about them is that they also allow clicks to help with with breast cancer, child health, literacy, rainforest preservation and animal rescue, all of which are also worthy of different types of concern. It's behind the scenes, but it has the potential to make a difference to someone somewhere.

One of my favorite charity orgs is Samaritan's Purse. Not only does this group end up wherever they are needed most as fast as humanly possible following major international crises, they also have one of the most creative international children's ministries I've ever heard of called Operation Christmas Child, and anyone can take part. Just read up on it.

People respond to stuff like this, whether you can see assistance being given or it's behind the scenes. People like to know they and others are making a difference. And face-to-face for those receiving help is huge. People respond to you cleaning their property after it's destroyed by a tornado or hurricane, or rebuilding after a tsunami.

Not all help orgs are Christian, and taking part in one doesn't make one a Christian. But for the Christian who acts in Jesus' Name, it can show love in action and provide an opportunity to tell people why you are helping them, and on Who's behalf. That's why I like to say an organization like Samaritan's Purse offers more than hope. They also share who Jesus is with the people they are helping. So does World Vision. They don't just talk it, they walk it too. They put their faith in action, go out there and get dirty and share the Gospel as much by doing as speaking.

Caring for the helpless. That's part of the religion God of which approves. And it's exactly what He does for those who believe.

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