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Good and bad religion

*Reposted From 09/20/2017*

Sometimes when you're constantly around someone who studies the bible like it's oxygen (I say that because it's an amazing thing), the desire to study rubs off on you. I began reading bible expositions as part of my daily devotions and then decided to start writing lessons for Christian Education on the book of James.
Well, one section in Chapter 1 jumped out at me and I thought I would share it on my blog.

"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 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 1:26-27

I have heard church people regularly say "I don't have a religion, I have a relationship." or that "spiritual" shirt that says "It's against my relationship to have a religion"--- for some reason, the church is quick to assume ALL religion is bad. But the book of James makes it perfectly clear that there is such thing as pure religion... but what is the difference between good religion and bad religion?
Saying that Christian's have a relationship with God is accurate, but often times I feel that saying this creates a problem. I have heard church people say that "God loves me and will forgive me" and thus excusing the behaviors and actions they have that are outside the will of God. They ask for forgiveness when they gossip about someone, or when they turn their backs on someone in need. Sometimes, they even make the excuse that a person in need must have done something wrong so they must deserve what they are getting and are learning a lesson--- and then they don't feel guilty when they stand by and watch someone hurting.
But James says to help those in distress and to not be polluted by the world.
"But God loves me and will forgive me!"
But do you truly love God? God has already made it perfectly clear that he loves you by the fact that while we were still sinners he chose to die for us (Romans 5:8). The question has never been if God will still love you or if God forgives you. The question is: DO YOU TRULY LOVE GOD?
I can say I am a Christian all I want. I can pray, I can read my bible, I can go to church--- I can claim to have a relationship with God, but do my actions, does my religion mirror my beliefs? Do I live the life that God calls me to? Do I ignore or help those in need? Do I talk badly about others or do I speak encouragement? Do I act live like people who don't know God or do I live like I am set apart? Do I act arrogant or humble? "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."
The fact is that Religion isn't bad--- I want to be able to say that my Religion backs up and proves my Relationship with my savior. What about you?

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