James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a sermon on this verse! This isn’t talking about nature, but about the world’s system. Even so, if you are worshiping what God has created instead of the God who created it, you are guilty of idolatry. We are to be good stewards of the natural world, but much of the “green movement” is either idolatrous or a thinly veiled effort to gain power and/or money. Of course “ecology” wasn’t an issue in the 1st Century, but what James was talking about is still very much in evidence today. When we are wrapped up in the latest fashions, consumed with what the glitterati are doing and trying to emulate them, we are setting ourselves up as enemies of God. It is natural to care what other people think, and we are certainly to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but if we care more about fitting in than about obeying God, we again are taking the place of God’s enemies. This is hardly a politically correct truth, but it is very real and sorely needed in the Church today. It’s all a matter of focus and priorities. The more we focus on this world’s system, the further we get from God. When we focus fully on God the world may think us weird, but people are likely to admire us anyway, whatever they might say. We aren’t to be strange for the sake of being strange, but we are to take our cues from God and His Word rather than from the world.
I can remember desperately wanting to be “in style” as a teenager, with little hope of being so because the styles I was concerned about were on the US Air Force dependents school I attended, and I had no access to on-base shopping. It meant the world to me when my sister went off to college and sent me a Madras-fabric shirt from the US, because they were all the rage (never mind that the dyes bled so you couldn’t wash them with anything else). That abated very little when I went to the US myself, because I still wanted very much to fit in but felt I did so very little. It wasn’t until I married someone whom I felt would love me, whatever I looked like, that I was liberated from that. I still like looking nice, but fashions mean nothing to me. ( I even have no antipathy toward leisure suits!) Even so, that’s no guarantee I don’t let this world get ahead of God at times in my heart and mind. I’ve got to stay focused on Him, loving Him so strongly that everything else falls into place behind and below that. The song, I Am a Friend of God, is popular in some Christian circles, but it is true only when I refuse this world’s idolatry.
Father, thank You for this reminder. This isn’t much of an issue for me at this point in my life, but I see many who struggle with it. Keep me from looking down on them, but rather enable me to speak the truth in love to them so that they may recognize what they are doing and be encouraged to choose You over the world, for their eternal blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!