James 4; Jeremiah 27-28; Psalm 132
Who doesn’t want to be popular? We all love it when people praise us and talk about how good we are or how well we fit in. We want to have a “good witness” so we are very careful about the words we speak and where we speak them. We are proud of that good reputation. We read the book of Jeremiah and wonder how he would dare speak like he did. Jeremiah didn’t know anything about being popular. He disrupted services at the Temple and contradicted other speakers. He called out the king. He did not have a good reputation among God’s people. Yet he was following God’s call on his life. James reminds us that we must stay focused on God, and not accommodate ourselves to this world. “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) James is very blunt in his assessment. The truth is that we talk about our faith as being a marriage with God. If we would be unfaithful in our relationship with God in order to get the people of this world to like us, we have then become adulterers. Our job is to stay true to the call of God. We are to speak God’s truth to our world. That may mean that people won’t like us. That’s ok – God still loves us. That may mean we lose the popularity contests. That’s ok – God still loves us. We may get a reputation that isn’t very good with those who oppose God. That’s ok – God still loves us. The key is not that we are intentionally unpleasant; the key is that we are always faithful to God. When that happens we will make a positive difference in the world as a friend of God and not an enemy.
Dear God, it’s so hard to focus on You when so many people in this world seek to draw me away. It’s easy to run to the praise of this world instead of seeking to be faithful to You. Give me the strength to be faithful to You, loving others the way You have loved them, and showing them Your way.