Just a Few Questions

by Jonathan Whitaker

That is a blurry picture of Cheeto sitting in Jennifer's Mothers Day gift. Cheeto has nothing to do with this blog, but posts with pictures always get more likes and I have to do my part to keep the internet as the premier destination for cat photos.

You ever take a road trip with an eight year old? Or, have you ever driven to the store alone with an eight year old? If the answer is "yes," then you have made this remark: “You know, you sure ask a lot of questions.” My two oldest daughters, Lauren (10) and Holly (8) (no I’m not an NCIS fan), can ask some questions. They score high marks for complexity and volume in the arena of question asking. My kids could be Guantanamo interrogators if they weren’t so over qualified. Kids ask a lot of questions. So does James chapter 4. Nice transition, huh?!

Like my kids, James 4 crowds a lot of questions into a very small space of text. Seventeen verses and I count six question marks. James starts with a question I ask my three kids at least once a week, “why are you fighting?” But, he doesn’t stop there; he gets real deep, real fast. “Who are you to judge your
neighbor?" “What is your life?” The question posed in verse four is the one that really gets me, not just because it is the basis for major self-reflection, but because James asks it in a way that suggests that the answer is self-evident, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” Well,
don’t ya?!

That question is the definition of the word juxtaposition. Which as we all know means putting two things next to each other in a sentence to create a contrasting effect. And what a stark contrast it is. If friendship with the world were a white piece of paper, enmity with God would be a huge inky black dot right in the middle. There is no similarity, no blurred edges, just total separation, total otherness (yes, Google confirmed that otherness is a word).

This question has me asking some questions. First off, am I friends with the world? I mean I have friends who are not Christians, that means they’re in the “world’s camp.” What about my life do I love that is not of God? How long is God going to let me harbor this enmity? What in my life is holding me back from being friends with God instead of being friends with the world? How can I change?

There it is... how can I change? Thankfully, the Bible is not silent on this point. James 4:8 tells us to, ”Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” The truth is, you are going to have to navigate your way through a sinful, fallen world, and you are gonna get dirty. Being dirty and being dirt are two different things. Ask yourself the same questions that I did to gauge your dirt vs. dirty quotient.

I am reminded of Jacob, the restless son of Isaac. Jacob left his father’s home and went to work, live, and eventually thrive in a foreign land. But on his way God promised Jacob that He would never leave him and that He (God) would bless him. In turn Jacob made a commitment to God, based on God’s promises to him, and he laid a marker stone and called it Bethel (which means "God's Camp") as a reminder that he was and always would be in God’s camp. (Gen 28). Jacob then went on and sojourned in a foreign land. He went out into the world and got his hands dirty. And though he made his way in the world, from that point forth, he was no longer friends with the world.

God has made you promises as well, and as a Christian person, you may have gone out into the world. Here is the difference between you and Jacob. You were sent by the Son of God into the world. But, it was not you who set up a marker, it was Jesus, when He marked you with His blood and claimed you as His own.

So I guess what I’m trying to tell you is this: you’re gonna spend some time in the world. That’s where the people are. You know, the people God has sent you to tell the good news to. Keep your eye on the one who sent you and maybe just don’t go native.