Editorial: Being Friendly vs. Being a Friend

The majority of believers, at one time or another, has wrestled with the problem of separation from the world. Where does separation end and isolation begin? How are we to reach people and influence them if we practice separation? What constitutes a social “yoke” with the world?

The Scriptures is clear in its principles: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor 6:14). Again, “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jas 4:4). The principles are clear. It is the application of these principles to specific incidents and relationships which is difficult.

But the Word of God is equally clear about our responsibility to “Do good to all men” (Gal 6:10). It is the harmonizing of these two apparently colliding dictums which creates much of the tension of living in a secular world with spiritual goals.

The same Word of God, however, also affords us light by the examples of men and women who have already lived with the same issues before them. If we look at Judah and his actions in Genesis 38, we see a man who went to the world for his companionship (vs. 1,12), comfort (vs. 12), and counsel (vs. 21-23). It ended in conviction from the world, as he had to own his folly (vs. 26).

One of the most insightful lives to consider is that of Samson. His birth and early life were marked by tremendous potential. Quiet, restrained excitement must have moved through the camp of Dan, as men looked to him for future deliverance from the oppression of the hated Philistines. Significantly, he was marked out from birth as a Nazarite, one who was separated from the world and consecrated to God.

But Samson’s relationship with the world of the Philistines was hardly exemplary in its character. He first went to it to find his friendships (Judges 14:11). He ignores warning from God and the Word of God. A man in the wrong place at the wrong time exposes himself to needless and dangerous temptation.

How significant that the Spirit of God punctuates his life with the oft-repeated expression, “Samson went down!” It is only in his burial that it records that his brethren came and “took him up.”

In all of these examples, the common principle appears to be that these men went down to the world to have their needs met, not to meet the crying need of the world. It is true that we must “use” the world to have certain needs met: needs for food, health care, basic necessities of life. But when we go to the world to draw from it and have needs met which replace the spiritual needs of our souls, then we are becoming the friends of the world.

Has the Lord placed you and me where we are to have our needs met by the world or to seek to meet its needs?