September 8, 2014
READ: James 4:1-5
If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God (v.4).
When my younger sister was 4 years old, a global dictator (who we’ll call Frank) was constantly in the nightly news and the contents of his angry speeches splattered across newspaper headlines. He was violent—spewing hatred and fear. My sister obviously had little political understanding, but she picked up on our national anxiety and understood that most people believed this dictator to be a dangerous, bad man. One day, my dad (who had taught us that God’s desire was for us to love absolutely everyone), quizzed my sister. “What do you think of Frank?” my dad asked. Perplexed, my sister carefully considered her reply. Finally, she answered. “I love him, but I wouldn’t play with him.”
My sister understood what the apostle James tells us: our acts of friendship matter. Friendship is a valuable gift, and it’s not to be given away lightly. Our truest friendship is our friendship with God. Other, lesser friendships, however, can derail our relationship with God if they’re not submitted to Him. This is why James asked incredulously, “Don’t you realise that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?” (v.4).
The phrase “friend of the world” can be confusing. It doesn’t refer to caring about the realities of this world (the physical earth, world structures or politics). The world, in James’ terms, is a way of measuring meaning and value. Theologian Luke Timothy Johnson captures it well: “The world is a measure that does not take God’s existence, and therefore [God’s claims], into account.”
This is why being a friend of the world is not to be a friend of God. To be God’s friend is to say yes to His vision for us.
365-day plan› Luke 21:25-38
Read 1 John 3:13. Why might the world hate you? Why is refusing the world necessary for pursuing the life God offers?
Is there a way you’re measuring your value, meaning or purpose apart from God? How might this alternative (worldly) pursuit of value and friendship harm your soul?