by Stan Mitchell
Play an imaginary game with me for a moment, would you please? Let’s imagine that we lived in another time and place, and that we had different friends and acquaintances than we do now.
What would it say about you if you lived in Germany in 1940 and one of your friends was Hermann Goering? What if you lived in Russia in the 1920’s and you counted as one of your friends Joseph Stalin? What if you lived in California in the 1960’s and one of your friends was Charlie Manson?
“Now wait a moment,” you might protest, “Just because we were friends doesn’t mean I was guilty of the evil things they did!” And you’re right. But friendship with those people would still say something about your character, wouldn’t it? Like it or not, our friendships say a lot about us.
“You adulterous people,” James declares. “Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred with God?” (James 4:4).
When there is a war going on, it is hard to remain friends with both sides. Being Winston Churchill’s friend would probably put a strain on your relationship with the ubiquitous Mr. and Mrs. Goering. And vice versa. There must have been Christians in James’ day who felt they could remain on friendly terms with the “world” and retain their relationship with God.
Being friends with the world has nothing to do with whether or not you are an environmentalist; it refers to society to the extent that it is antagonistic towards God. There is a war going on, and there are casualties. The body bags are being brought home all the time, and we speak here, not of something so temporary as physical death, but of spiritual loss.
These casualties affect eternity. Little children are led astray by our compromises. Teenagers are influenced by our lack of commitment to Christ. Weak and young Christians are confused by our insistence on fraternizing with the enemy. It is possible that even we are being unwittingly affected.
You can’t “aid and abet” the enemy in a time of war and expect the other side to look kindly on it. The problem is that we so easily forget what is at stake, and the enemy is so successful at convincing us that we are not at war.
So who are your friends?
by Stan Mitchell