You adulterous people! 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.  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
(James 4:4-5 ESV)
 For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
(Isaiah 54:5 ESV)
The Bible is the record of the love story of God and his covenant people. He made us, cares for us, pursues us, redeems us, etc. etc. And we? At times we try to get what we want without reference to him.
Is desire bad? No. Desire is good. The whole question is of loyalty and propriety.
- WORLD ( )
- WORLD god
- ( ) God
- GOD world
- The first option is wanting things in the world and going to the world without reference to God.
- The second is wanting things in the world and trying to use God/religious stuff to get the things you want.
- The third is only wanting God, and nothing in the world etc. This is monasticism, withdrawal, and so on.
- The fourth is desiring God as the categorically greatest good, and following him in how to approach the good desires in the world he has created.
4 options of desire world/god and the JAMES 4 strife issues via a party with pizza delivered:
- first option: My temptation is to just get what I want without reference to God; its nobody’s business. If I want the first piece of pizza at the party, I just maneuver my way up to the front and get what I want.
- second option: My temptation is to just get what I want, but ‘god’ can be useful. If I offer to pray for the group maybe I can go up next to the pizza and be the first to get it.
- third option: I don’t care about pizza, I just love God. I don’t even need food, or people, or anything. I’ll just go to a room by myself with God and forget about pizza, and people, and parties and everything.
- fourth option: be grateful to God to be alive, enjoy the pizza when it is my turn, but don’t be undone if my favorite kind is already taken, look for ways to grow in contentedness and graciousness, whether through receiving pizza or not.
That is my reconstruction from Sunday. The deal is God created the world, has us in the world, so loved the world he sent his Son, will recreate the world… the ‘world’ is not bad, the ‘world’ in rebellion, the system of good/evil outside of God, that is what is bad. That is why what follows in James is:
1. don’t despair, God is gracious if you will just humble yourself (admit the desire dysfunction)
2. clarify your trust/loyalty: move toward God and away from the devil
God’s grace will sort out our loyalties and habits towards desires if we persevere in humility and trust. Again, that is the whole point of the book, helping this group not to lose hope in the face of big problems, rather to gain confidence to patiently endure in doing right even when it is not obvious or easy.