The Old Testament lesson in today’s Daily Office continues the saga of Solomon. Having made such an auspicious beginning — and having been so richly blessed by God — Solomon allows his affection for collecting wives to displace his “first love”:
“He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” (1 Kings 11:3-4)
Of course, it’s easy for us to wonder how a leader who was so close to God that he asked for wisdom rather than wealth could fall so far. And what’s more, it’s easy for us to assume that we’re not so foolish and short-sighted as to repeat the mistake. And yet, as today’s New Testament lesson warns us, the path to idolatry (or as the Bible often describes it, “spiritual adultery”) tends to be close at hand and easily travelled:
“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?” (James 4:4-5)
In these verses, of course, part of the challenge is that “friendship with the world” is frighteningly vague and is therefore subject to the whims of the preacher or teacher who defines it. But that’s why I’m attracted to the second half of the passage rather than the first. God, James suggests, “jealously longs for the spirit He has caused to dwell in us.” Our Father is too often a “Jilted Lover,” who aches over our betrayal, who longs for us to return to Him, and who has gone to hell and back in order to reconcile us to Himself.
Are there any “misguided liaisons” threaten to draw us away from Him today?
May gratitude for His goodness and delight in His love motivate us to answer His “jealous longing” with our own faithful passion.