Monday, July 23, 2012
‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him righteousness’ and he was called a friend of God.”
What comes into your mind when you hear the word “friend”? Our meaning of friend today is somewhat different than how the audience hearing this letter would have understood it. Today, friends are generally thought of as people that we do things with. Whether it is playing, shopping, or eating, we tend to do these things with our “friends”. James would have had something very different in mind. Cultural study tells us that the relationship between “friends” of that day would have been much more similar to a benefactor/clientele relationship. Friendship meant that you depended on someone completely to meet your needs or vice versa.
James expounds on this idea later in the letter. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever might wish to be a friend of the world is rendered an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) This rather harsh language stresses the danger of relying on the world for our needs. Later in the chapter James goes on to exhort members of the church (likely merchants) concerning reliance on the world and their own plans for success (vv. 13-14).
Ultimately, James poses the question, “Who are you relying on to meet your needs?” Even the best friends in your life can let you down because we're all human. God is not that kind of friend. Abraham trusted in God completely by offering up his son because God promised him descendants as numerous as the sand on the beach. I am not trying to negate plans or intelligent preparation. What I am proposing is that we (the church) can get caught up in worry and fear about our future and fail to trust in the most powerful being in the universe to meet our needs. I wonder what our lives might look like if we truly believed the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 when He said “do not be anxious about your life” (v. 25) but instead focused on “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (v. 33).
So to you, dear reader, I pose the same question: Who or what are you relying on to meet your needs? This world and all that is of this world, although tangible, will ultimately fail us. Let us instead strive to be a friend of God and keep in mind an acronym that was very popular in my youth: F.R.O.G. which was a reminder to Fully Rely On God.