They say familiarity breeds contempt.  While I’m not contemptuous of the latter part of James, I am more familiar with it.  Perhaps that’s why I’m struggling to write up the last bit.

You adulterous people,[a] 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. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud     but shows favor to the humble.”[c]

      • James 4:4 An allusion to covenant unfaithfulness; see Hosea 3:1.
      • James 4:5 Or that the spirit he caused to dwell in us envies intensely; or that the Spirit he caused to dwell in us longs jealously
      • James 4:6 Prov. 3:34

The word “adulterous” has lost not only some of its meaning, but some of its power.  Adultery is fairly common in the Western world, even though most religions still officially condemn it.  But the definition from Merriam-Webster of “promiscuous” or “two-timing” is the closest to what is meant here, still lacking in the strength of the original word.  There is a covenant broken that is implied.  In marriage, it implies the breaking of the marriage covenant.  In relations with God, it’s the breaking of the salvation covenant.

This verse uses very strong language intentionally: friendship, enmity, jealously.  Some people make friends easily and they are more like acquaintances.  I make friends slowly and they are, in my heart, at least friends forever unless they choose to walk away.  I think this is similar to God.  He allows us friendship once we open the door and He is always there… until we close it.  However, if we are being “friends” with the world, we are declaring enmity with God.  Ouch.  Now, again, it depends on where you draw the line for friendship, but I try to keep the marriage analogy in here as well.  If I just idly flirt with another man, am I committing adultery?  (For my part, I say yes.  You decide for yourself.)  In the same way, if we are idly flirting with the world, are we being unfaithful to God?

I know some people don’t like the idea of a jealous God.  I don’t get it, personally.  If I love someone and they say they love me, I want them to be jealous of my time and attention.  If they don’t, do they really crave it?  Do they even miss me?  In the same way, to me, a jealous God craves my time, attention, and energy.. .and He’s entitled to it.  The world isn’t unless I’m planning on divorcing myself from my Christianity.

The next time that you think it’s okay to just once watch a movie (*cough* Magic Mike *cough*), read a book (Fifty Shades of Grey, ladies?), or dwell on a thought you shouldn’t have, remember that Someone jealously covets your attention… just as any good spouse would.  I know I just stepped on some toes, by the way.  Feel free to defend those choices to me if you want… or talk to God about them.

By the way, I used to think it was okay to flirt with the world occasionally because I was a “strong enough” Christian.  Let me tell you, I wasn’t.  Baby steps led to a slow jog led to a fast run led to a downhill slide.  I think that’s the meaning of that last bit: “God opposes the proud     but shows favor to the humble.”  If you think you’ve got it all together, you just put God on the opposing team.  That’s like going to play pickup basketball and putting Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan, and Shaq all on the other team, ’cause you “got this”.  Yeah… good luck with that.  I’d rather admit my weaknesses and have God on my team.

God’s team wins in the end.