Contention and idolatry, that’s an interesting combination. James proposes in chapter 4 that we have arguments because we are focusing on our own selfish desires and wants. As we wind into our political season here, we politely call all the differing points of view, politics, convincing us that one candidate can do the job better than the other, help us achieve our dreams if their party has political control. Are they different paths to the same outcome, different ways of approaching the aame God? At best it is confusing.
Jemes calls his friends an “adulterous people” because he points out that friendship with the world is being at odds with God, the kingdom of heaven. Wow. That is hard for us to hear and easy to dismiss as “back then” when siding with Rome was not siding with faith in Jesus. We are far more tolerant and embracing of diversity in culture today and slide over these verses. It seems though that a core question niggles at the back of my mind. Am I seeking to please me, achieve my desires, or am I seeking to God’s desires, and perhaps do I have the two confused?
When we think of blessings, we can merge the ideas of blessings of God with blessings of this world. For sure God does not want us sick, poor, warring. So now we are back to chapter one again. It is during times of trials that we have trouble sorting out values for suffering tempts us to put our eyes on the values of this world. Then we hear that little voice whispering in our ear, “IF…” If God is the God certainly he would not want you unwise or sick or poor or…. Name your problem. Trials have a way of sorting our values. Hence the charge of idolatrous, having an idol, making something more important than God himself and seeking, worshipping that outcome. I justify lying on income tax because… I justify luxury because… I justify compromise.
James ends with a promise. The Spirit of God is battling for us “intensely” and we are given grace. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” When we find ourselves pondering choices, may we take that as a clue to stop and reflect. Who am I seeking to please? God bless you as you prepare for Sunday tomorrow. Blessings.