“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4
What does it mean to be a “friend of the world,” as this verse states? It is an important question to answer because choosing friendship with the world has serious consequences. James is clear that whoever chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
It is interesting that this verse does not make Jesus the object of our choice. The focus is on how we choose to relate to the world. Affection for the world results in enmity with God. Many people think that if they believe in God, that is all that matters. Not according to this verse. A line is drawn. A choice must be made. We cannot claim to follow Christ and still love the things of this world. To do so, God says, is adulterous.
So, what does friendship with the world look like? It helps to understand the use of the word “friendship” in this verse. It means a familiarity or close association…much like brotherly love. And by “the world,” James is referring to the world order, not the people of the world. We know from Scripture that Satan and his powers are at work in the world, warring against God and His people (Ephesians 6:12). There is an unseen battle raging, and we must choose a side. Remaining neutral is not an option in this war.
Friendship with the world involves the details of our lives. It is what we watch on TV, the movies we will pay to see, the music we listen to, how we allow our children to dress, the language we use, how we spend money, how we spend our time, and the list goes on and on. In every life choice, we are siding with either the world or with God. Are we numb to the blatant disrespect for God that is rampant in the world today, or does it grieve us and move us to take a stand to pray?
As Christ followers, it should be evident in our daily choices whose side we stand on. Our affection should be for Christ, not for the world that is opposed to Him.
Father, everything this world stands for is in direct opposition to You. In a world that promotes self, pride, excess and pleasure help me to stand for You, with You, and in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.