Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4 (almost NASB)
Friend of the world – Who is a philos tou kosmou (friend of the world)? This is a vitally important question, perhaps equal to the scribe’s inquiry, “Who is my neighbor?” If we have the wrong answer to this question, we might fall prey to the same seduction Havvah experienced.
Here’s the simple answer: a friend of the world is an enemy of God. Obvious, but perhaps not too helpful, until we realize that God has given us quite an exhaustive list of the thoughts and behaviors of those who wish to befriend the world. That list is found in the 613 Torah commandments. A friend of the world disregards God’s instructions for living, replacing His instructions with guidance from the kosmos. Since there can only be one true God, replacing His instructions with different directions about life can only mean that the replacements come from a false god. To be a friend of the world is to be idolatrous. To be a friend of the world is to serve a god other than YHWH. It doesn’t require debauchery, treachery or megalomania. It only requires asserting that God’s instructions don’t matter.
Was that a body blow? Did that remark suddenly cause you to shudder? If it is true that Torah disobedience puts you in the position of an idolater, are you still able to claim friendship with the Most High God? Do you have a greater appreciation for the dilemma facing Havvah? She wanted to do all that she was expected to do. She wanted to be the best ‘ezer kenegdo she could possibly be. Don’t you want something similar? Don’t you want to be all you can be, all God intended you to be? But are you willing to manifest that desire within the boundaries God sets? Havvah doesn’t sin because she is selfish or power-hungry or rebellious. She sins because she desires to improve God’s plan. The desire is genuine and noble. The means are sinful. She befriends what the world has to offer in order to do what God wants. I wonder how many of us do the same.
Of course, this truth entails two imperatives. The first is that I must know the 613. Not all apply to me, of course, but to ignore or disregard them is an act of rebellion, according to the implication in James. So I must look and see which apply to me.
The second is that I am called to love my enemies. Now I realize that this commandment (one of the 613) extends to those who willfully or ignorantly disregard the 613. They are my enemies because they are God’s enemies because they serve another master. And I must love them with such a compelling love that they return to the 613, the fellowship of His community and the experience of His presence. Love of enemies doesn’t mean simply turning the other cheek to those who carry a gun. It can also mean caring for those who carry an altered Book.
Topical Index: enemy, friend, world, James 4:4, commandments, Havvah