James 4:4 packs a punch. It’s not adorable or cutesy. It’s the kind of hard word designed to shock our senses and remind us where the line is.
“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.”
We are seeing this reality play out all over our world today. Christians all across the spectrum of right, center, and left, who most want to be “safe” and accepted, whose primary identity is tethered to their preferred political affiliation or friend cohort. Afraid or unwilling to speak God’s truth or identify publicly as believers in Christ who agree with God’s word.
Nobody wants to be referred to as adulterous, but the reality is our culture is full of professing Christians who have decided it is more convenient to belong to the world than to live like they belong to Christ.
James 4 isn’t the first time God’s people have heard this kind of strong language about loving the world. Throughout the Old Testament, prophets spoke sharply about the adulterous relationship God’s people were carrying on with other gods.
Jesus also comforted and warned His disciples, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19 ESV)
He prayed for us, “ I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14 ESV)
In 1 John 2:15-16, we’re commanded, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”
It’s imperative that, as Christians, we ask ourselves some diagnostic questions about our priorities and where our allegiance is. What are we most concerned with when it comes to our reputations and our friendships? What are we most afraid of losing?
Have we made it our business to agree with God and make His word the basis of our beliefs and opinions? Or are we proof-texting popular opinion and grasping for Scriptural evidence to support our feelings or inclinations?
Are we devoted to our own good reputation or to the reputation of Jesus Christ? Is His Word our standard, the place we begin to know who God is, His work in history and in the world, the rule and reign of Christ, and how we must live for Him?
Are we so uncomfortable with being unpopular that we are silent or even willing to align ourselves with the world’s standards of what is right and good? Is our biggest concern finding belonging and comfort and safety with the world? Are we worried most about losing friends and social media followers? Or do we desire to know true, lasting belonging to Christ and to hear “Well done” from our Savior when we see Him face-to-face?
Friend, are there ways we’re acting like we’re God’s enemies because we’ve become best friends with the world?