James 4:1Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2 You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
I’m particularly struck this morning with v.4 of the passage:
4 Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
When we pursue the same things as people outside the church, we eventually find ourselves in conflict with God. We cannot serve two masters. We cannot seek approval from God and from the world around us – because very often those two objectives are at odds. There are some examples that come to mind in my own life:
- In a consumer culture like ours it’s hard not to fall in the trap of endlessly pursuing “stuff”. And in my pursuit I ignore more important things in life. Like God. Like those I love.
- In a culture in which it’s considered fashionable to be “busy” (because important people are busy) I can ignore my need to rest. When I’m exhausted I’m no good to anyone.
- In a culture that increasingly disconnects itself from a Judeo-Christian worldview, standing up for Christian values often puts me at odds with those around me. I have to be careful that I’m not more concerned with peoples’ opinions of me more than God’s opinion of me.
What about you? Where are you tempted to align yourself with others in a way that puts you at odds with the Lord?
Heavenly Father, your ways are not the world’s ways. Give us grace to overcome our desire to be found acceptable to others when doing so makes us unacceptable to you. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.