What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes? Don’t they come from your cravings that are at war in your own lives? You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight. You don’t have because you don’t ask. You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings.
You unfaithful people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. Or do you suppose that scripture is meaningless? Doesn’t God long for our faithfulness in the life he has given to us? But he gives us more grace. This is why it says, God stands against the proud, but favors the humble. Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Cry out in sorrow, mourn, and weep! Let your laughter become mourning and your joy become sadness. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
But what does it mean to “un-friend” the world? Taken to the extreme, it might require me to stop typing this post right now. Isn’t our over-reliance on technology one measure of friendship with the world? Probably. But then that opens different questions: if technology is the measure, then what time period’s technology should we stop with? Is a 19th-century level of tech (think Amish) acceptable to God, or should we aim to roll it back further? How about fire & wheels – are those okay?
So maybe technology isn’t the most helpful measuring stick. What if instead the measure is wealth or economic status? Then let’s ask this: what income percentile is it okay for Christians to aim for – 15th? 50th? 85th? And are we talking US percentiles or worldwide percentiles?
Obviously, things get pretty absurd pretty quickly.
The beauty of James is that to him, things are very black-and-white. But Christian living is seldom that simple. Faithful lives will look very different in different times and places.
What if friendship with the world is really about how fully we buy into and live according to the prevailing values of our society? If so, then maybe choosing to un-friend the world means people of faith will choose to live in ways that critique and create alternatives to society’s norms. We demonstrate our opposition to ungodly values by actively modeling things like community, grace, forgiveness, peacemaking, and equality that reflect the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
We don’t un-friend the world so much as we stop allowing it to dictate how we live our lives!
For Pondering & Prayer
From what you know of Jesus’ life and work, what are some of his values that the world (or at least our part of it) seems to be lacking right now?
Is there one concrete step you can take today to live out of Jesus’ values rather than the world’s values?