The Christianity surrounding me has been reduced to the negative (don’t do this, don’t do that). Now of course there’s plenty of room for such thinking (prevent the world leaving its dirty smudge on you) but, generally speaking, the Bible never prohibits a certain action without encouraging a more positive one, as Ben Morton put it in his post about swearing and the tongue:
In scripture an instruction not to do something is generally part of the understanding that there is a good that should be done and an evil that should be avoided. Generally speaking, “you shall not steal” means not only that you ought not to behave like a thief but also that you should give generously and lend without charging interest or even expect any return. You can see it here in Ephesians 4:29: Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
: This is why it’s not enough to prevent the world leaving its dirty smudge on you. That kind of thinking brings you only halfway and you’ll never reach a more whole Christian life (furthermore, you might just end up being a legalist: someone who feels they deserve heaven, based on either the good they’ve done or the bad they haven’t done).
If I could rephrase James 1:27 you might see what I’m getting at: As far as God the father is concerned, pure, unsullied, devotion works like this: prevent the world leaving its dirty smudge on you by visiting orphans and widows in their sorrow.
My generation has suffered from this.