You are not faithful to God. Don’t you know that to be a friend of the world is to hate God? So anyone who chooses to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.
James 4:4 (New International Reader’s Version)
Since the dawn of humanity, we have tried to fit in with the crowd one way or another. We will do anything to avoid the dreaded FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. We will change our personal style in clothes, music, politics, even career to be part of some “in crowd.” Many of us will change our very persona-especially trying to nab a certain person for romance. As I said earlier, we will change our career plans to jobs (that we would normally avoid like the plague) just to fit in with people we think are cool. This fitting in starts in school while we’re a young age; we try to fit in with the other kids. It later manifests in adolescence through sports, certain clubs; or on the negative side, gangs. In college, it’s joining a fraternity or sorority. In adulthood it manifests even more since we’re job and mate hunting.
However, trying to fit in can manifest itself in deeper ways: many of us trade for what God made us to be. You were called to be single so God can work with you, yet to fit in with family and married friends you marry and have a family. You were called to be an artist, yet to fit in with your “professional” friends you get an MBA and
slave work for Corporate America. You were called to live in the low-rent part of town so you can minister to the locals, yet to fit in with your “bourgeois” pals you go in debt to your eyeballs and buy a “McMansion.” God has called you to spend time with Him/Her so you can grow, however you try to fit in with your social media pals and go jet-setting all over creation.
Some of us even walked away from God Him/Herself, shutting our selves from Him/Her so we can fit in with our social circles. This is dangerous-period! Tonight’s Scripture is a punch in the gut for those trying to “fit in.” James, who was Jesus’s sibling, warns us that being a friend to the “world”-the ego-driven, illusory, transient, shallow realm that all about us-is being unfaithful to God. In fact, James minces no words when he wrote that friendship with the world is being God’s enemy.
And the sad part is that no matter how much we do fit in, it will never be enough. We will continually compromise those things that God has for us. No house, money, sex, position, social circle, status, etc is worth the trade off. We will lose what God made us to be as the world swallows us up more and more until we are completely taken over. And in the end, Jesus’s question will ring in our ears:
What good is it if someone gains the whole world but loses their soul? Mark 8:36 (NIRV)
Trying to fit in with the world conflicts with what God desires for us and our lives: a fuller, deeper, and eternal abundance. In fact, I daresay that God wants us to stand out: to go against the “world’s” status quo. To let God shine though us so that our divine humanity can be seen by all. God created us to be unique individuals and live that uniqueness through what we were given. There we can be true representatives of the Realm of God in the world. We can let our lights shine so people can see our good works. We can be truly human, instead of trying to “fit in.” And who know? We may turn around and liberate those caught in the “fitting in” trap.
Trying to “fit in” is dangerous. Let’s instead be what God created us to be.
(Image by Me: Adirondack chairs, West Orange, NJ)