The summer after my sophomore year of college, a classmate died unexpectedly. I’d seen him just a few days prior and he looked fine. My classmates and I were young and in what we thought was the prime of our lives, having just become sisters and brothers after pledging our respective sorority and fraternity.
But what I remember most about my classmate’s death was witnessing my fraternity friends live out what the apostle James calls “genuine religion” (James 1:27 nlt). The men in the fraternity became like brothers to the sister of the deceased. They attended her wedding and traveled to her baby shower years after her brother’s death. One even gifted her a cell phone to contact him whenever she needed to call.
True religion, according to James, is “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (v. 27). While my friend’s sister wasn’t an orphan in the literal sense, she no longer had her brother. Her new “brothers” filled in the gap.
And that’s what all of us who want to practice true and pure life in Jesus can do—“do what [Scripture] says” (v. 22), including caring for those in need (2:14–17). Our faith in Him prompts us to look after the vulnerable as we keep ourselves from the negative influences of the world as He helps us. After all, it’s the true religion God accepts.