In his sermon, On Friendship with the World, John Wesley said, “Whatever it cost, flee spiritual adultery. Have no friendship with the world. However tempted thereto by profit or pleasure, contract no intimacy with worldly-minded [people].” Jesus illustrated this principle in his dangerous interchange with the members of his hometown synagogue. At first, things seemed to go well. He did the Scripture reading. He promised that the Scripture was being fulfilled. But then doubt set in: “Isn’t this Joseph’s son? Hey, didn’t we grow up with his sisters and brothers?” If the people of his hometown had their way, it would have ended with homicide.
When we follow God’s agenda, there will be a parting of ways with “worldly-minded people.” We cannot please everyone. We cannot always follow a path that leads to worldly praise and success. We cannot please God and all people. The part of this Scripture that hooks me is: “But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.” Jesus perceived the tension. Jesus knew they were not trusting in him. They kind of like what he said. But they could not see past the familiarity they had with him.
Sooner or later, if we follow Jesus, there will be a parting with the world and its agenda. This is often painful because it is not played out in abstract ways but with people we know, people we interact with. As Jesus warns, it may even be with brothers, sisters, mother, or father. It may be with friends we have known for many years. What I speak of is not a reckless or prideful rejection but a prayerful and deliberate walk. It is a walk that ultimately leads us to a cross . . . and to an empty tomb. It is a walk that we share with others who have chosen to not be friends with the world. It is a walk that will lead us through many dark valleys and many mountaintops. It is a walk that will lead us . . . home. How is God calling you to go on Jesus’ way today?