God Won’t Be the “Other god”
Last week at Calvary we looked at the heart and soul of the book of James — chapter 4:1-10. But here is the part that I’m still pondering. James writes in vs. 3-4
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Don’t leave these words too quickly. I think God inspired them with grief in his heart and I think James wrote them with tears in his eyes. When you read these words you must imagine an e-mail from a husband to a wife whose having an affair. Imagine a conversation between two people meant to lay down the line — point the one and only pathway to reconciliation in a broken love relationship.
What if I came to Lynn and said — “I have a confession to make. I’ve been having an affair. But it’s really not that big a deal. I mean it isn’t all the time — and in my heart I still love you, I just love someone else too… but oh man — I really love those chocolate covered rice krispee bars — could I get a pan of those every once in awhile…?”
I’ll be honest, it sounds disgusting coming from my mouth to my ears.
I can’t imagine Lynn saying, “Okay no problem Dan. I’m good with that — let me stop what I’m doing and make you a pan now. Anything else I can do?” I can imagine her getting a baseball bat to clobber me over the head, but not a pan of bars. Can you imagine the audacity of a husband who has left his wife, is having an affair but every once in awhile comes around to have his laundry done. Or the audacity of a wife who has left her family, is having an affair, but once a month comes arnd for rent money?
More than anything this is the crux of the problem for James’ readers. They still love the gifts of the giver, but they don’t want to be committed to the giver of the gifts. They want to play the field. James is not directing this to people who have committed adultery against a spouse, it is directed toward people who have committed adultery against God. They are having an affair with the world. Seeking pleasure without commitment. Or even worse they are treating God like the other woman. Sometimes I think that perhaps we just want to have an affair with God. Come to Him for moments of pleasure on our terms — when we want — commitment free satisfaction.
But the only problem is — God will not be the other god. That’s what James is saying. We can’t have it both ways. One heart, one love, God will not take second place.
So before we come to God and ask him for goodies, we better make sure we’ve gotten rid of the other gods.