Have you ever sat and wrestled for a while with big questions? I know that most of us have a little more time on our hands, so this is a good time to meditate and ponder. I was reading in James this past week and came across a verse that I had read many times before, but it struck me differently this time.
You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. James 4:4
First, we need to understand the context of this verse. James is the elder of the church in Jerusalem. He writes this letter to give some very practical instruction to the believers. You can see that he is getting tired of Christians playing games. He has had enough of weak faith. He calls out some very bad habits that Christians were apparently struggling with, like not controlling their tongues or having trouble dealing with trials. In this passage, he really gets going. He rebukes the believers for infighting among the brothers. Why? Because they do not have all they want. Not that their needs are not met, but rather they are craving things of the world that they do not have. James speaks up to tell them that friendship with the world comes with a price, you will become an enemy of God.
This theme is not new. All the way back in Psalm 1 we see there are two paths. One worldly and the other godly. Jesus addresses this a couple of times with a metaphor about sheep and goats and again when we talk about two paths: one wide and one narrow. All these things are driving at the same point. We cannot walk down the worldly path and expect to find God.
In fact, to choose a worldly path is offensive to God. You are saying that you know better than the creator and Lord of the universe. You are saying that all the good gifts that God has given are not enough. You are saying that sin and wicked deeds are better than the righteous teaching of God. You are basically saying that you do not trust God.
The world is seductive, with its constant newness, never mind that all the "new" are usually shined up versions of old sins. The world draws us in like a shiny lure does with fish, but we do not realize there are sharp hooks that grab a hold of our hearts. We get trapped by the shininess of it and before too long we are addicted to it. The sad reality is that the world can never fulfill us, that is not its purpose. Rather it just keeps us craving more and more until we are so deep into sin that we do not even recognize who we are anymore.
I realize it is hard to resist because the world is entertaining and often we can rationalize it in our lives. The world has a firm grasp on many Christians because, well, it is just easier. Resisting the world and following God takes work. Paul compared training for godliness to training for a race. You do not get up off the couch and run a marathon without extensive training. Godliness does not just happen by accident either. It takes time and dedication to study God’s word, to pray, to obey and to cultivate a relationship with the Lord. However, there is great hope even if you have been walking down the path of worldliness. James helps with this in verses 7-10.
Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:7-10
We need to repent, turn our hearts back to God and commit to His ways. If you have been walking down the path of worldliness, turn back to God today. The world will only leave you empty, craving more and more. The path of godliness will fulfill you and bring you close to the Savior. Forsake the world and turn back to Jesus to walk the path of righteousness today!