Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. / James 1:27
What an astounding statement. This is God’s definition of pure religion: “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” True religion apparently doesn’t consist of monotonous participation in superficial pious activity. True religion consists of just and consistent demonstrations of supernatural, selfless love.
When the Bible describes “visiting” orphans and widows here, it means more than simply saying hello to them every once in awhile. The same word for “visit” in James 1:27 is used in different places in the New Testament to describe how God himself visits his people to help them, strengthen them, and encourage them. To visit orphans and widows means to seek them out with a deep concern for their well-being and a clear commitment to care for their needs.
Enter the orphan and the widow – children and women who have lost a significant member of their family on whom they depended for physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual sustenance. Consequently, they desperately need someone to step in and provide physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual sustenance to them. True religion, according to God, is to love people like that. True religion is to be family to those who have lost family.
So what does that mean for followers of Christ in a world of 153 million orphans? Moreover, what shall we do in a world filled with 245 million widows, 115 million of whom live in poverty and suffer from social isolation and economic deprivation as a result of losing their husbands? Knowing that each one of these millions represents a unique child or woman for whom God possesses divine compassion, it’s not a question of what we should do. The only question is whether we’ll do it.
Excerpt from David Platt’s Counter Culture