Give Me Jesus
Read James 4:4-5 (ESV)
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
What do you think it means to be a “friend of the world”? Why can’t we be friends with both God and with the world?
If you ever feel like you just don’t fit in with the rest of the world because you are a Christian, you are right. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are at odds with the world in so many ways. Attempting to make friends with the world usually involves some form of compromise in truth and holiness because what God values is diametrically opposed to what the world values. Our culture is very “me” centered. We value ourselves and our individuality. The world preaches personal happiness at all costs and that we are the boss of ourselves.
But the Bible says we are blessed when we are “God-centered” and focused on His Kingdom instead of our own: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). We are commanded to obey God rather than other people or ourselves: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Christians are to focus on personal holiness instead of personal happiness: “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16). And instead of thinking mostly of ourselves, we are supposed to consider the needs of others first: “...in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
These are just a few examples of why James said that if we are friends with the world we make ourselves enemies of God. If we embrace the ideologies of the world, we oppose Scripture. If we compromise on issues of morality to maintain friendships, we oppose the truth and tolerate sin. In Matthew 12:30, Jesus said that “Whoever is not with me is against me….” There is no room for sitting on the fence or being wishy-washy. We have to decide where our allegiance lies and live accordingly.
James used some serious language to make his point. He called people who are trying to maintain friendships with the world “adulterous people.” In other words, fooling around with the world is cheating on God and He will not tolerate it. He wants us to worship Him completely and whole-heartedly. Like a husband is jealous of his wife’s affections, God is jealous of us. No one should have to endure a spouse who lusts after others. God won’t tolerate two-timing either. He wants us to have undivided hearts for Him.
In 1 John 2:15-16, the apostle John wrote along the same lines as James. He said, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.” If we are in love with the Father as we should be, we will not be in love with worldly things.
Now, to be clear, James is not teaching us to hate the lost people of the world. On the contrary, we should share the same heart that God has for them. We should desire that all people “be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). We should love and pray for people who are far from God and wrapped up in the world. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul reminded us that the people of the world aren’t our enemies but rather the dark spiritual forces that rule the world: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Friends, I want to be a friend of Jesus more than I want to be a friend of the world. The closer I get to Jesus, the more I love Him. The more I love Him, the less I love the things of this world. The less I love the things of the world, the less I want the things of the world. Instead, as the old spiritual song says, “give me Jesus.”
Lord, I confess that sometimes I prioritize the things of this world over You. Please forgive me for my half-heartedness. Draw me closer to You and help me love You with my whole heart. I don’t want what the world has to offer. I want You instead. Amen.