Oh, To Be a Friend Of God
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4.4 ESV
James uses strong, direct language. There is no frill, no hedging, no softening the blow.
He did NOT say, "Be careful, now! Being friends with the world might taint your testimony!" Or, "You mustn't befriend the world. It might compromise your love for God."
friendship with the world = enmity with God
Here's what good ol' James was saying: Christians need to take care or it won't go well. We are NOT to make friends out of this world's ideology. Or this culture. We are IN the world, not OF the world. Oh, Christian, we must take care. This is no joking matter, no trivial concern. James was quite clear about that.
This world is not to be our meat and drink, but His Word alone. Our thoughts, our desires, our passion, our love - all Christ centered, Word based, Spirit motivated.
Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things. Proverbs 23.33 NASB
What we look at matters. The eye beholds and effects our mind. Maybe we should all take a second look at that favorite movie or TV show we've been watching. How tainted is it?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4.8 ESVThe meditation of our heart and mind matters. What we think upon transforms us. Let's look closely at those blogs we read, that magazine arriving every month. Is it based on true and honorable things?
There has been a trend in current American Christian circles. It goes something like this: Let's look like the world so they'll come to our churches; let's convince them that we are normal, run-of-the-mill folks, no different than they are so they'll listen to us.
Huh. If we really believe we are no different than they are, than what is it we have to say to them that they don't already know? But if we acknowledge amongst ourselves that we are extremely different, in fact so different that we even live in a kingdom completely unlike their own, then are we practicing deception in order to present truth? How does that work?
We are not like unbelievers. We are not supposed to be like them. God has separated us from them, called us out from amongst them. For Pete's sake (who is Pete anyway?) - God LIVES in us!!! It is the hard, clear, wonderful truth.
We are concerned, maybe even afraid - yes, I think we are afraid - that such separation makes us unloving, haughty, arrogant. It didn't Jesus. He went into the tax collector's home. He spoke out on behalf of the adulterous woman. He served the poor and sick. He loved the man who did not yet have salvation. We can, too. But we don't have to look like them or become like them in ideology, in culture, in dress, in action, in thought, in speech, in humor. We should be markedly different. Peculiar.