James 4: Friend of the World
The beginning of James 4 brings us to this idea about how Christians ought to be in the world but not of the world. How exactly do we handle that relationship?
Jas 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Jas 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Jas 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Jas 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Verse four seems awfully strong by itself. However, this verse does not say we cannot be friends with people who are tied up in the world. The world here is an entity; it seems to describe essentially evil. Therefore, first realize that this verse certainly does not mean that we only associate with Christians and ignore everyone else. If we’re going to fulfill the Great Commission, then it seems to me that there does need to be a relationship with the world.
Being a friend of the world seems to be referring to the previous verses. We are giving in to our “desire to have.” We are more concerned about getting things than we are about pleasing God. We are fighting amongst ourselves for things that really have no eternal significance. It seems that this is what James is referring to when he speaks about friendship with the world. We are wanting what the world wants, and quite frankly that leads to ruin.
What do we do then as Christians? We follow God. That is as basic as I can put it, but think about how the implications of that. God tells us to love other people. God tells us to stand up for truth. The Bible is full of teachings that advise us on how to follow God. We need to put that relationship ahead of our friendship with the world.