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The Tale of Two Crises

by Dan Cruver Published Dec 15, 2009

According to James 1:26-27, the practice of true religion manifests itself in what we do with our words (v. 26), our service (v. 27), and our hearts (v. 27). James’ description of true religion is indicative of God’s original intention for our humanity. God created us in his image to speak words that build up, to serve others for their good, and to look to him as our hearts’ functional trust. To do so is to be genuinely human and practice, as James puts it, true religion.

But since the fall of man, we have preferred spoiling God’s shalom with our words, serving ourselves for our own self-centered good, and making idols (money, power, achievement, social causes, etc.) our functional trust. Tragically, when we live in contradiction to God’s original intention, we thin ourselves “down to a mere outline of a human being.

What this means, then, is that the global orphan crisis is really a cosmic crisis of true religion, or should I say the lack of true religion. The reason there are more than 143,000,000 orphaned and vulnerable children in our world is that our humanity has been thinned down to a mere outline of what God intended it to be, and that by our own doing! This is the tale of two crises.

God in his grace, though, has given us “the word of truth,” the gospel (James 1:18). As James writes, “Of his own will [God] brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” Amazingly, by the gospel God has made us to be a pledge of the eventual full harvest of a new creation. This is the hope of the gospel.

Where we have spoken words to spoil God’s shalom, God has spoken the shalom of the crucified and risen Jesus. Where we have served ourselves for our own self-centered good, God has served us self-sacrificially in Jesus. Where we have made idols our functional trust, Jesus has perfectly trusted the Father in our place.

In Jesus God has dealt with the cosmic crisis of true religion and in so doing has freed us to address the global crisis of orphaned and vulnerable children. Therefore, it is as we grow in our understanding and appropriation of the gospel that we will be able to most effectively visit orphans in their affliction (James 1:27). This is why we must keep the gospel at the center of the global orphan crisis. Only by the gospel will the world one day be put right.


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