(This post was intended for a few days ago when the verse below was from the reading for the day. But unfortunately things got in the way of me writing it at that time.)
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4, RSV-CE)
How are we to understand this passage from the Epistle of St. James? Did not God make the world? We are told in Genesis that God created everything “and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Therefore, why would friendship with the world make us an enemy of God? Because, the 'world' which St. James is referring to is not the one that God created. It is the world of sin and death which St. James is referring to – the world that came into being at the moment Adam and Eve sinned. Ever since that time mankind has had a tendency to do his own will and ignore the will of God. And yet, as creatures that were created by God and for God it is only in doing His will that we can truly be happy.
In addition to this notice that St. James does not leave any middle ground on which to stand. You cannot be friends with God and with the world at the same time. If we are pursuing the things of this world then we are necessarily moving farther away from God. Conversely, if we are truly pursuing God in our lives then we should be moving away from the things of this world.
Lastly, it should be understood that not all things of the world are bad in and of themselves. In fact, many things are quite the opposite – good things that God has given us to enjoy. What matters for us is how we obtain those things, how we use them and what place they occupy in our lives. No matter how good something is, if we put it in the place in our life that is reserved only for God, then it will never makes us truly happy. True happiness – that happiness for which we are all searching and of which the things of this world can only give us a glimpse – can be found only with God.