The Beauty of True Religion Project

Chris BraunsSermon Series

A “post-its” display on the front wall at church will track our church’s progress in responding to the book of James.

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But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

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

Objectives for The Beauty of True Religion Project

To encourage our church family to be doers of the book of James and, in so doing,  to see the beauty of Christ.

Our prayer is that families and individuals of all ages will prayerfully meditate on James and consider how the Spirit would move us to action so that dozens and even hundreds of actions take place between now and Christian as a result of our time in James.

The more our church family follows Christ, the more we will see the beauty of our Christian faith.

We should be especially motivated about this project given our plans for facilities expansion. In the coming months we will be planning the use of our site including a master plan. What is foundational to that project — and showing our facilities are a good investment – is to continue being a local church living for Christ.

How We Will  See the Beauty of the Christian Life

We see the beauty of the Christian life in an ongoing way as we witness one another showing the love of Christ.

We will signify that beauty at the front of our church this Fall for everyone — maybe in a special way for our children — to witness. By December 23, we hope to spell out the phrase,  “True Religion is,” as a mosaic of post-its on the front wall of our church. The post-its will represent commitments and actions taken by our church family.

Green will signify commitment. Each time an individual, family, or group of individuals, commits to considering an action, we ask the individual or group to indicate at the front of our church by putting up a green note.

Red will signify follow-through. When a commitment is completed, we ask those involved to change the color in the front of our church from blue to either red or green.

Pictures and Stories – Along with helping us with our post-its mosaic at the front of our church, we pray that some of you will take pictures and write the story of how God used the book of James to call you to action. In December, we will share some of those stories as part of our worship services.

No Limit of Commitment and Responses – We anticipate that God will work in the life of our church throughout the Fall and early Winter. We pray that many will complete many actions. One person might easily put up 5 post-its.

On December 23, two days before Christmas, we will celebrate how God has moved our church to action.


James summarized true religion in this way:

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

Notice two aspects of the fruit that exemplifies Christianity:

  1. Unselfish acts of love. Visiting widows and orphans is significant because those groups in the first century had very little to offer in return. James echoes the call of our Lord (Matthew 25:40) to serve the least of these. Our church should pursue unselfish service.
  2. Keep Oneself Unstained from the Word. We breathe in the air of a fallen world and must battle in an ongoing way to not allow our hearts to be shaped by subtle forms of unbelief and for our minds to be polluted with the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.


We are praying that people will be called to action as a part of our church life. Examples might include:

James Reference Example Commitment / Action
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (1:2) I will pray for God to show me how to count my illness as a joy.

Interview or talk with an older person who endured a trial. Ask how the trial helped them grow in godliness.

“To visit widows and orphans” (1:27) I will seek out an opportunity to serve someone who needs help.

Doing yard work for an elderly person.

Contribute to our church benevolent fund

“From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing, these things ought not to be so.” (3:10) Asking forgiveness of someone about whom you have gossiped.

Memorize Ephesians 4:29.

“What causes quarrels? Is it not your passions?” (4:1) Confess in your home that you have been harsh with one another.
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition . . .” (3:14) Confess covetousness and wanting what is really not needed.
“If someone has wandered from the faith and one of you should bring him back.” (5:19-20) Call someone who hasn’t been attending church regularly and invite them as your guest.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (1:5) Read and discuss the Bible together as a family
“And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (3:18) Unpack forgiveness toward someone who has sinned against you

Dangers of The Beauty of True Religion Project

There are ways a project like this can go wrong! Here are 7 dangers to avoid.

  1. A Failure to Specifically Root Action in James – Our goal is to be shaped by the Word of God. It is not enough for our people to do things that seem good. Rather, we want to pray Psalm 119:18 and see how the Word of God might move us to action.
  2. Moralism – Teaching that acts or deeds earn God’s favor. We are not saved by good works. Rather, we are saved unto good works.
  3. A Failure to Verbally Profess and Proclaim the Gospel – If we are to be obedient to the Lord’s command to go into all the world and make disciples, we must announce the gospel. It is not enough to only model good deeds.
  4. Showing Off / A Performance Mentality – Jesus cautioned against doing acts of righteousness to impress others(Matthew 6:1). When serving the Lord, we should always evaluate our hearts and be careful we aren’t trying to impress others. Yet, there are times when it is appropriate to show leadership via sacrificial gifts. For example, in Acts 4:37! We need to constantly examine our hearts and motives and some acts should be done completely in private.
  5. Getting “Convicted” on Behalf  of Someone Else (Nudging others) – The vision for this project is not that we will say, “I sure hope ‘Joe’ listens to this sermon.” Or, “I’ve always thought our church should . . .” Rather, this is about our people being mobilized and called to action.
  6. Adding Program Overhead – We are not looking to make our programming more complex. Rather, we want to be intentional from within our existing programs and structure.
  7. Not being shrewd. It’s not a good thing to give money to con-artists. Many will take advantage of the benevolence or generosity of Christians. We must always be make sure that we are helping in ways that are balanced and a good investment of God’s resources.