“…. friendship with the world is enmity with GOD” (James 4:4)
I love James because he doesn’t pull any punches. He says “faith without works is dead” and advises us to bridle our tongues!
And so when he asks, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with GOD?” then I notice and I wonder, for James speaking to us, what is friendship and what is the world?
We are created for relationships, family and friendships. Even GOD is in relationship: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as well as having created us for relationship with Him. Where then, do we draw the line?
We all need friends. We all seek friendship, in all its various shapes and sizes, backgrounds and ambitions, hopes and dreams.
I just met up with a friend. We had a lovely time walking, catching up about our families and though she does not walk with GOD as I do, she is very near and dear to me. Am I contradicting scripture in walking with, in befriending her? Of course not!
“Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
As we put GOD first, love GOD first, love Him with all of our hearts, then we turn to others with that love, and we nourish them with our love. As we receive, so we give.
To love in our own strength is not compatible with this commandment. But holding our love from GOD unto ourselves exclusively, is not the only reason we receive.
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”” says Jesus (Mark 16:15) before his ascension. But what is preaching the Gospel? It is being available, in season and out of season, waiting and wanting to teach, to explain, allowing the LORD to give us words. And if He does not lead us to share Him, we love anyway.
We walk with GOD. We are His workmanship. That comes first. But a candle is not only to light a small space, it can also be lifted and carried to another place, allowing us to receive its light along the way.
And so, when we love GOD first, and put Him first, we have plenty of light to love others. Who is our neighbour? She is our friend. One who sees us as an enemy is also our neighbour. We allow people to choose us (so long as the friendship does not cause us to stumble), not turning our backs on others but facing them with our hearts, willing to accept them as Jesus accepts us. And we can enjoy their company. This is part of life on earth! Through this too, they discover us and they may glimpse the Lord as well.
We are called to be in the world but not of it.
Jesus said, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.” (John 11:9)
While Jesus walked the earth, others noticed. But the true disciples chose him over all the rest of the world’s offerings. They followed the light even onto death, because they preferred the light of the world over the world.
Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:9)
We will meet those who oppose us. Yet, they — like Saul who became Paul — may eventually turn to the light. And we meet those who embrace us, and we can enjoy their company. What matters is where they come in the hierarchy of what matters to us.
Those who have Jesus and walk in the love of GOD, are called out of the world. We cannot love the Lord Jesus and the world any more than we can serve both GOD and mammon. (Matthew 6:24) We inhabit space just like every other living, breathing human being on the planet; but the space we inhabit is only physical space, not moral, emotional, spiritual space. The space we live in our hearts and our minds is not to seek after worldly things — possessions or positions. It’s a funny thing, actually, that as soon as these things are not important to us, we can then handle them safely.
The world and the beauties and attractions of it are nothing to those who love GOD first. This even includes our relationships.
And so, when we are outside of the world — existing in it physically but not wanting anything from it, not being a part “of it” — it does not have any effect upon us: no pull, no temptation, force or power. Likewise, our friendships will be secondary to GOD, dear to us but holding nothing on us, and so we are free to enjoy others without putting them above GOD.
Friendship not of the world
We can enjoy friendships. We do not have to shun those who are not of like mind or spirit. We can minister, gently or directly, as the LORD leads. But when GOD is first, this is not a problem or a challenge, it is simply natural for us — aka supernatural.
We are not of the world, but we are in it. So let us rejoice and be glad, knowing that the LORD loves us and we love Him. All the rest is icing on the cake!
Every blessing as you navigate through the world, its people and GOD’s people as well.
Shalom and GOD’s blessings rest upon you.