What is Real Religion?
‘What is Real Religion’. James 1: 27, he tells us… that ‘Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God, is to visit with orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being pouted by the world’. In comparison to 50 years ago, only a fraction of the orphanages is still operating in the United States. Fortunately, state and county governments have incepted fairly effective social service systems, including ‘Foster Parenting’ and healthcare programs to take the place of orphanages. And considering the limited resources most counties have at their disposal, I’m not sure how much more they could be accomplishing.
Now as far as widows are concerned, we will focus this discussion on those that are members of their respective churches. Widows typically marry when they are a bit younger than their husbands; the average life expectancy for seniors in the U.S. today is 81 for women and only 79 for men. 2 years does make a significant difference. This is the primary reason that 7 out of 8 spouses standing at graveside are women.
The majority of members in evangelical churches are women, including a growing number of them being widows. And from a financial perspective, not all widows are financially comfortable. So, when a husband passes on, the remaining spouse loses ½ of their social security benefits. Not considering any additional income, the loss of ½ of one’s social security benefits, creates a serious challenge to a monthly and budget. Unfortunately, someone in this predicament can easily feel like they’re slowly drowning with little options.
In our home church, we allot 16% of all Tithes and Offerings to ‘Missions’, supporting 10 full-time missions, located domestically and overseas. Our total giving to missions this past year totaled $50.000+ dollars, yet we do not have an ongoing program, that addresses the needs of widows in the church, particularly those that find themselves at some level of distress… that’s certainly something to think about.
Now the last admonition in James’ comments focuses on inspiring ‘Believers to keep themselves from being polluted by the world’s system’. I find it interesting that James would include this advice, along with the needs of widows and orphans. On the surface, they seem to have little to do with each other; but once I thought about it, it made perfect sense. If our spiritual and emotional perspectives are not in line with God’s commands, how could our hearts be prepared to serve God and those He puts into our path?
So, what can we do to assist the widows that are members of our churches? First of all, If God lays this burden upon your heart, visit with your Pastor, Minister, Deacons, or Elders. Let them know that God is challenging you to take up this calling. And once you have a ‘Go ahead’ and a small budget, do the research and get started. Not to worry about the results; God’s Holy Spirit will guide and direct your efforts. And in future episodes, I will update my own efforts, as we keep the process moving forward in our church.