"Friendship with the world"
Adulteresses, do YOU not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.--James 4:4.
For you who may still believe in the the Bible, how do you understand the above text? In what ways do you think it applies? What limitations does it place on a Christian's activities or associations? Can a Christian serve in the army/military of his country and yet not be a friend of the "world"? Can a Christian youth become a player on his school football team without becoming their "friend"?
Of course, persons who no longer believe in the Bible are also invited to respond.
As ever the context makes the meaning. The author is not concerned with Roman politics or with the Christians' activities outside the church, but what is going on within the church under the cover of nice, "spiritual" words of "faith": social prejudice, personal ambition, envy, gossip, power struggle and so on. This is the "world", within the church (cf. 1:27).
The epistle of James is a short and excellent read.
The immediate context (but there is no hiatus between chapter 3 and 4) is:
Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, "God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
DOES IT MEAN ONE SHOULD NOT BECOME INVOLVED IN BEING A NGO MEMBER OF THE UNITED NATIONS?
DOES IT MEAN THAT A RELIGIOUS ORG. SHOULD NOT SEEK FINANCIAL HELP FROM A COUNTRY SUCH AS SOME CHURCHES DO?
DOES IT MEAN THAT ONE SHOULD NOT BE INVOLVED IN TELLING PEOPLE IF THEY OUGHT OR OUGHT NOT BE A MEMBER OF THEIR NATIONS MILITARY?
DOES IT MEAN THAT ONE OUGHT NOT USE THE GOVERNMENT FUNDED PROGRAMS FOR HELPING PEOPLE AND AT THE SAME TIME PIONEER WHEN THEY COULD BE WORKING TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES?
DOES IT MEAN THAT IF ONE IS GENUINELY DISABLED, THEY SHOULD NOT TURN TO THE GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS FOR HELP?
and on and on.
Well, I'm not an Adulteress, so it doesn't apply to me.
I'm a friend of the people in the world, not the world itself. I prefer not to make friends with huge balls of earthen material orbiting the sun. They don't listen too well and never chip in for pizza.
Why do you suppose the word "world" was the word of choice at James 4:4?
Because it was (as it still is) a common Christian reference for "the outside", "the unsaved": especially in Johannism of course, but also in Paulinism (1 Corinthians 1:20f etc.). But the Epistle of James clearly shifts the emphasis: there is no reference to what Christians do outside the church, only how they think and behave within. IOW: do not look for the "world" where you believe it is, it is within and among you, in the very structure of your speech, attitudes, mind, etc., which have not been affected by the "faith" you profess.