Get Off the Fence

Di•chot•o•my | dahy-kot–uh-mee | noun. A division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities.

Using dichotomy, a communicator divides an issue or concept into two parts that contradict and, thus, creates tension. In other words, if option “A” is true, then option “B” isn’t. If option “B” is applicable, option “A” can’t be.

For example:

“There is good and there is evil.” You have to be one or the other. This is particularly true, I would say, in Scripture.

“One is either a parent or not a parent.” Both of these options can’t be true for a single person and, obviously, everybody is at least one of these options.

Another biblical dichotomy

The Apostle James uses this technique when he makes the dichotomous statement:

“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

This seemingly harsh statement comes on the heels of the apostle’s explanation of the dangers of misguided and unchecked passions in the life of a person (4:1–3). Our evil desires can cause division and fracturing in relationships.

And then, in verse 4 as we just read, James throws down a Spirit-inspired, divinely-defined dichotomy: “You can be a friend of the world or you can be a friend of God.”

It’s really one or the other

Option “A”: You can love the world and the things of the world.

You can do all the things non-Christians do, watch all the things they watch, listen to all the things they listen to, and speak as they speak. As a matter of fact, you can live a life in which nobody would ever guess you’re a “Christian.”

Effectively, when one choses option “A,” one chooses to make the world their god, pushing the true God to the margins of their life.

Option “B”: You can love God.

You can love his incarnate Word (Jesus), his written word (the Bible), and his character and his will. The interesting thing with option “B” is that, when we make this our sole passion, God actually promises to give us a lasting “abundant life” (John 10:10), something it would seem is the desire of those pursuing option “A.”

According to James, this isn’t a false dichotomy. The two options are the only options … there’s not a third. The two options don’t overlap. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can not love the world and God—they are mutually exclusive! And God loves his people too much to stand for that.

God jealously refuses to share the affections of his children with anything else. And praise God for that!