What does being a friend of the world mean, or not mean? //Blog

secular-sacredJames 4:4 says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

Wow. What do we do with this? We may decide to run and hide.

We have to be careful not to take this from a literalist or black and white thinking perspective. Many HS kids think this way.  This may push us to living a more exclusionary life, a separate life.  While that may seem the most holy thing a Christian can do, it is the least culturally impacting action.  It is not living in the world and not being of it.  It is escaping the world.  How can one shine a light of the goodness of God that way?

A friend of mine says – I’m a 21st century human being making sense of reality using the Christian faith.

What’s that mean to you?  It means that I am first of all a human of the culture who is trying to make sense of reality.  I just happen to view reality through the biblical lens of Christianity.

I recently tweeted: “The more we live in a sacred/secular dichotomy, the less we will be able to genuinely incarnate ourselves in the messy lives of people.”

When we run and hide, live completely separate from the world so as not to become a friend of the world, we risk losing the ability of making any kind of impact.  People are messy.  They say and do things that are disgusting.  If I hide in my holy huddle and throw truth bombs at sinners, I completely miss the calling that God has given to each believer.

It is about living in the tension of the middle.

Peter takes a different perspective than James does here.

He writes in I Peter 2:11-12 – 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

It is living in the world but differently.  it is not adopting the practices of the world but redeeming them.  We are culturally based; there is no getting around that.  If you are reading this, you are on a computer that has access to filth of the internet.  However, we must live in this world. We have to live in the world. We have to do “secular” things, work at “secular” jobs.  That is an old covenant mindset.  Living as a new covenant believer is to live in the world but being different.

I love what Peterson says in Romans 12: 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

We can’t be so well-adjusted to the culture that we don’t intentionally and critically think about EVERYTHING we do as a part of this world.

Be careful about making a 2 column list of sacred actions and secular actions.  The lines can get really blurry.  It is all about living in the culture and getting in the messy lives of people.  It isn’t fun, but it is necessary.

I was reading a post of an online student recently who proudly stated that they stop listening to all secular music.  I said out loud, “NO!” Don’t swing the pendulum.  Engage culture, even if it is messy! Think about how we live. Dialog with those who do not yet know Christ.

James Emery White, in his book, The Rise of the Nones, says that we need to do ministry like Paul did in Acts 17 instead of how Peter did in Acts 2.  I completely agree.  We have to know our world, be engaged with it, interpret it from a native perspective, but we must live such good lives among those who do not believe that they may be changed!

That is what it means being a friend of God because God wants to be friends with lost people who live in this world.

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