James 1: 26 – 27
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:  to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Religion.  What words come into your mind when you hear this word?  Your family of origin and your training, your experiences – both past and present, your geography … all this effects your emotional response to the word, ‘religion’.  What images come into your mind?  Ceremony?  Elaborate buildings?  Rituals?  Tradition?  Hierarchy?   Denominations?  Casual or formal?  Relevant or irrelevant?  World religions?  We could go on and on with our reactions to this rather volatile word.

The Greek word James used is threskeia.  Its meaning, according to James Strong, is:

All through history, people have tried to make ritual and liturgy a substitute for sacrifice and service.  They have made religion splendid within the church at the expense of neglecting it outside the church.  This is by no means to say that it is wrong to seek to offer the noblest and the most splendid worship within God’s house, but it is to say that all such worship is empty and idle unless it sends people out to love God by loving one another and to walk more purely in the tempting ways of the world.