“Religion” Has a Definition and It’s Not What You Think

“Religion” Has a Definition and It’s Not What You Think

When people ask me what religion I am, my response is always this: What do you mean by “religion?” Most of the time, the person allows this question and will freely give their answer. After listening, I’ll then ask: “Do you know what the Bible says religion is?” Regardless of faith or belief system, not one person I have ever asked knew the answer. Here it is: James 1:27 (in 3 translations)…

“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.” –KJV

“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

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” –NLT

>> 3 Main Takeaways From James 1:27 <<

𝓞𝓷𝓮. Religion is defined in a very open and unstructured way–vastly different than American Christianity–with a focus on serving those who are most in need. This leaves room for each person to develop their relationship with both Jesus and God to discover their own unique ways of serving, be it through their career, creative media, volunteer work, raising/mentoring children, making donations, or simply by demonstrating every-day acts of kindness and love.

𝓣𝔀𝓸. God chose to point out 2 very specific groups. He could have only said, “the poor, needy, or sick,” but He chose to say “orphans and widows,” describing them as afflicted (meaning in pain or suffering), and distressed (again meaning emotional, social, spiritual, or physical pain or suffering.) Orphans and widows have one main commonality: Biblically speaking, when God designed the structure of the family, He chose men to be the recipients of His wisdom, thereby bestowing a leadership role upon them. God must have felt that those who don’t have a father role model, or a husband role model would be the most in need of being cared for by the community. (I realize that this Biblically accurate interpretation of God’s design is not popular in today’s world, but I’m not here to give my own opinion on any topics; my goal is to clarify Bible concepts, regardless of beliefs.)

𝓣𝓱𝓻𝓮𝓮. Religion is NOT OF THE WORLD. Read that again. God needed to add this last important point because He knew that man would take His perfect and simple definition of religion and severely distort it. He knew that humans would complicate, manipulate, and even weaponize His Word. Just look at what this world has done to “pollute” and “corrupt” what basically boils down to: Help Others. Fellowshipping and a supportive community are so important, but if a church or church leader is not implementing God’s definition of religion, go elsewhere.

So, if anyone happens to ask you what religion is according to the Bible, now you know the verse and the meaning! What religion am I? LOVE. My hope is that all people take the initiative to deepen their relationship with God through a better understanding of Biblical concepts and how they apply to our lives. Take care, and God bless!

With love, Michelle