Is the church called to run contrary to the world? If so, then where are we missing it? I want us to think about our walk as Christians in America. This topic actually isn’t that new. James wrote about it long ago.
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
Those are some strong words he uses. He called them an adulterous people. What does cheating on your spouse have to do with the spiritual condition of a generation? The answer is found in the verse just preceding this one. It explains his choice of words. As he talked about asking for things in prayer, he wrote…
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Here’s the problem that James is describing as adultery. They asked God for things so that they could then spend those things on their pleasures. It literally says that their motives in seeking God, was so that they could become consumers of pleasures.
That sounds a little too familiar.
“God, please help me to get a better job.”
Then, as our blessings increase, we get more things and push God further into the background. After all, now that I have more stuff, I have less time for “church”.
Here’s the problem from God’s perspective. It says in verse 4, above, that trying to make friends with the world is an act of hostility toward God. To make a friend, you need to try to please them or be like them in some way.
Remember, we’re not talking about the people, but the world system. You can make friends with people without buying into the system.
There’s a word we use for the world’s system of order. It’s the word culture. Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary defines culture as, the sum total of the attainments and activities of any…people, including their implements, handcrafts, agriculture, economics, music, arts, religious beliefs, tradition, language and story.
In other words, the American culture is our entire way of life. It’s how we live and what we expect. It’s what we strive for as well as what we accept as “normal”.
When I think about the mainstream of life in the United States, I get a picture of the system at work here. Then, when I see the lifestyle we’re called to as followers of Christ, I get a whole different picture. There are some areas where the two cultures are drastically different.
How do we live in both worlds? As believers, we must live in the world without operating according to its system. That makes us a part of a counter-culture.
Many of the ways of God run contrary to how the world does things. When we seek acceptance from society by trying to fit in with them, we run the risk of compromising our beliefs. We must always live as a part of God’s kingdom no matter where we are.
Question: What are some areas you see where the church is too friendly with the world system?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017