This morning I woke up with an old hymn running through my mind. It was “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”, and the phrase that kept playing on repeat in my mind was: “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer”.
This is actually one of my favorite hymns because it reminds us that, if we have surrendered our lives to Christ, He calls us His “friends”. It’s an unbelievable idea to ponder - realizing that the God of the universe is willing to be our friend. But it's a truth we can't deny, as Jesus makes clear in John 15:14-15, when He says, “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” What an amazing truth!
However, as I was humming along to the hymn this morning, I was reminded that it also goes on to say, “Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer”. This is a great reminder of yet another truth; even though we’re friends with Jesus, we don’t always act like it. Here's what I mean: in our friendship with Jesus, we have everything we could possibly need. But all too often we forfeit all that His friendship offers us because we want to be friends with the world instead. And when we do that, we don't just miss out on what God offers us, we actually end up working against Him.
James makes this point in James 4:4, when he writes, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God”. That feels like a pretty strong statement to make, but it gets the point across - we can't be friends with God AND friends with the world.
So what does it mean to be "friends with the world"? Well, it can mean different things for each of us. For some it shows up as a love of money, or success, or the accumulation of stuff. For others, it’s the desire to satisfy our appetites for things like sex, or food, or alcohol and drugs. And for others it may just be the desire to live independently of God - wanting to live our lives our way, and feeling that we have the right to do that. Each of those things comes from a mindset that's focused on the things of this world. In other words, "friendship with the world". And putting those things before God is in direct conflict with the way He calls us to live. So when we give in to them, we’re choosing friendship with the world over our friendship with God.
So today, let’s not do that. Instead, let’s remember the fact that, if we belong to God, then we're His friend - and that’s a privilege we shouldn’t take lightly. Instead of living for ourselves, let’s embrace our friendship with God - and put Him first in all we do.