Sunday Worship at 11AM | 4967 Fincher Rd., Canton, GA 30114

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. (James 4:4 ESV)

I need to share a secret with you, I don’t like confrontation. When it comes to hard conversations, I tend to naturally avoid them. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fixer. I want to defuse arguments as fast as possible, and I tend to tense up when I am unable to do so. Often, I feel like the Switzerland of difficult relationships; I just want to remain neutral. I have a feeling some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

From my experience, most of us just want people to like us. Because of our desire to be accepted and liked, we avoid difficult topics and keep most friendships superficial at best. We like to imagine that we can have one foot in the Church and one foot out. We want to serve Jesus on the one hand and on the other we want to be accepted by the world around us. Because of this battle within us, often we become camo Christians, and desperately we try to blend into the world around us. But is that the life we are called to in Christ?

First, let’s address our desire to be “loved” by all people. While it is Biblical for us as followers of Jesus to show Christ’s love to the world around us (see Mark 12:31 and John 13:34-35), it is not Biblical for us to think that we can be true followers of Jesus and be accepted by the world. Jesus says it this way: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19 ESV) In Christ, we are in the world but not of the world. As we grow in our faith, devotion, and Christlikeness, we will only become less and less like the world.

In our focal scripture the Apostle James tells us that “friendship with the world is enmity with God.” Enmity is defined as the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something. This means that it is impossible for us to be both friends of the world and friends of God. How might one be a friend of the world? In just a few ways, we seek to please those in the world instead of Christ. We seek not to offend others while instead offending God. We hide our faith or water down the message of the Gospel to avoid causing offense to others. We worry more about this world than the world to come.

By the very nature of the exclusiveness of the Gospel, the world will hate us. The message of Jesus is offensive to a world that wants to be god of their own lives. The truth of John 14:6 means that Jesus is saying it is He and He alone that can save the souls of men. This means that all other religions, philosophies, and paths are headed to eternal separation from God. When we try to soften the blow of this truth, we are doing something that Jesus Himself never did.

I must stop for a moment and address an important thought. Often, I’ve seen, and even experienced in my own life how zealousness can consume someone. In our correct Biblical desire not to be friends with the world, we lack grace, mercy, compassion, or love as we communicate with a lost and dying world. I would caution you to remember that Jesus Christ came in grace and truth (see John 1:17). Remember that the truth without grace is just mean. Grace without truth is meaningless. The true Gospel both communicated and lived leads to a lifestyle of grace, mercy, love, and compassion undergirded with the truth of Christ.

So, what might it look like to be a “friend of the world?” First, we are worried more about pleasing people than Jesus (see Galatians 1:10). In an effort to please those around us and fit in, we silence our Christian witness. We are more worried about fitting in and being like the world around us than we are about being like Jesus. We do the things the world does. We speak in the way the world does. Our marriages and families look like the world around us. We work like the world around us. We play like the world around us. We become like the world around us.

I want to share a story with you that I hope will capture this truth. At the age of 25 when I surrendered my life to Jesus, my life was dramatically changed by the grace of God. I can vividly remember after I got saved, things began to change quickly. I’ve always loved to sing and whistle, but when my life was transformed by God, I began to sing and whistle songs about Jesus. I began to read my Bible, pray, and talk about Jesus very openly, to everyone. After a few weeks, my late wife Cassie came to me and warned me: “you have to stop talking about Jesus or I am going to divorce you. You aren’t the same man I married.”

I can remember soon after this conversation, I was crying like a baby in prayer time. My heart was broken before the Lord. How could the best thing that ever happened to me cost me my marriage? Before I got off my knees that day, I had committed to remaining faithful to Christ no matter the cost. The Lord strengthened me and helped me communicate with my late wife well. “I don’t want you to leave. I love you but I am not going back. I can’t stop talking about Jesus or what He has done for me.”

Before you give Cassie too much grief, the Lord went on to bring a deep healing in our marriage. I got to watch as God did a wonderful work in our lives, our marriage, and our family. I want to share a secret with you: Cassie was confused. See, I had tried the “Jesus thing” so many times before, only to walk away when life got hard. But when I finally surrendered my life, all of me, there was no hiding the transformation. No matter what the Gospel cost us, we should seek to please God above all else.

Before we close, I want to challenge you. Are you more worried about pleasing your family and friends than you are Jesus? Are you trying to be the Switzerland of Christian faith? Trying to maintain a neutral position? If so, it’s time to seek God’s guidance prayerfully and carefully. I’ll leave you with this reminder from Jesus: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30 ESV)

Father, forgive me for the times where I fail to seek You above all others. Lord, please help me not be afraid to be different. Jesus, please remind me that the world hated You before it hated me. Help me walk in grace and truth. Help me honor You with the things I say, do, think, and the way I live out my life. Help me remember that You are Lord of my life and help me be Your ambassador in this world. Holy Spirit, please show me the places in my life where I’m trying to be friends with the world. Help me walk in a way that honors You and points the world back to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Categories: Devotion