If you were asked to define true and faithful religion, how would you do it? I wonder if you would use James’ definition: “Religion that our God and Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).
Really? Keeping oneself unstained from the world makes sense, but widow and orphan care? No one would deny it’s important, but isn’t it just the particular burden of certain Christians but not others? Is James really suggesting that every disciple of Christ be committed in some way, shape, or form to widow and orphan relief? That’s exactly what James is saying. Let me prove it from the text.
The last half of the verse calls us to holiness, “to keep oneself unstained from the world.” The pursuit of holiness is clearly not optional. It’s the call of every Christian (1 Peter 1:15). Since that is the case, we do not have the interpretive liberty to divide the first half of the verse from the second, identifying one part (holiness) as universal and the other part (orphan and widow care) as optional. Instead, James pairs these these twin callings together as a definition for true religion.
Does not mean everyone is supposed to adopt a child or take in a needy widow? No, it doesn’t necessarily mean that, though, for some, and I pray more and more of us, it will mean exactly that. It does mean, however, that to some degree and in some way, shape, or form every one of us must be committed to the work of widow and orphan care. No one is exempt.
To that end, Cornerstone is joining with thousands of churches across North America in recognizing God’s call and the great need of our time for Orphan Care. Did you know that it is estimated that between 140-150 million children worldwide, ranging from infants to teenagers, have lost one or both parents? In America alone, there are more than 120,000 orphans while another 400,000 children live without permanent families. It is common for children in foster care to age out, leaving them with little financial or emotional support. 27,000 children age out of the system every year. Every day, 5,760 more children in the world become orphans, and every 2.2 seconds another orphan ages out with no family and no home. These are staggering statistics!
In light of the Bible’s clear mandate and the current crisis, what are we to do? One way the elders of Cornerstone are answering this call is through the creation of a Cornerstone Adoption Fund. I don’t have to tell you that adoption is very expensive. Many families who desire to adopt choose not to because of the financial demands. In an attempt to bear each other’s burdens in this call, this fund was established to encourage Cornerstone families to adopt and for us as a church family to join with them in it! If you want to give to the Cornerstone Adoption Fund, you can do so now and at any time in the future by writing “Adoption Fund” on the memo of your check. If you want to learn more about the parameters for the disbursement of these funds or how to qualify for adoption funds through Cornerstone, please contact Joe Haworth (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jim Smith (email@example.com). They would love to speak with you about it.
As we make strides to answer the orphan crises of our time, let’s do so knowing that we were all orphans once, but God in perfect love determined not to leave us without a Father (John 14:8). In love, He gave his only Son so that in him we might receive the adoption as sons (Ephesians 1:5, Galatians 4:5-7). May the adoption heart of God be our heart as together we strive to care for the orphans in our generation.