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.
It is easy to be religious. There are many religious people and there are many different religions. Jesus met many religious people in his day; people who claimed to worship God in a far better way than Jesus did! They criticised Jesus for breaking many of the rules that these religious people had added to the simple truth given by God himself — to love God wholeheartedly and to love one's neighbour as oneself. Jesus called some of these religious people hypocrites (see Matthew 23:28).
There are some religious people who claim to be Christians yet they deny the very basics of the Gospel. These were the people that James, who wrote the words at the top of this page, was speaking about. What God is looking for in those who claim to be Christians is quite simply a Christlike life. God can easily see hypocrisy and he hates that. He is looking for the 'real thing' when we claim to be Christians. James shows what the real thing looks like — loving Christ, pure clean speech, caring for those who cannot care for themselves and keeping oneself unstained from the corruption that is in the world — a Christlike life. That is the 'real thing'.
Dear Lord, help me to be a real Christian as I profess your name. Amen.