How Bo Jackson Made Me an Enemy of God

This week, Jen Luitwieler, Kristin Tennant and I are each taking turns blogging about writing, community and solitude. Check out Kristin’s take today (link supplied at the bottom of the page). Tune in here tomorrow for my thoughts, mostly pertaining to the fact that I am a hermit.

Most of the decisions I make on a daily basis are of a self-centered nature.

There, I’ve said it.

Being self-employed, I decide where I’m going to work, how long I’m going to work, and what I’m going to work on each day. If I write at a café, I decide what drink I want and whether or not I’m going to blow $7 on lunch or go home to eat.

Living in America, I can decide where I want to live, what I want to do and how to spend my time. I choose where I want to go to church and whether or not to have cable and which phone service to sign up for.

I am free to agree or disagree with the president, my pastor and my dad (those last two are the same guy). I can spend all of my money on clothes or books or Taco Bell, if I want.

The amount of choices that confront me each day are astounding.

And how I answer them has a lot to do with whether or not I am an enemy of God.

* * * * *

When I was in 8th grade, I fell in love. Not with a girl, although I probably fell in and out of love with more than a handful of females during that particular year. No, I fell in love with something else.

I fell in love with a pair of shoes: Nike’s new Bo Jackson Cross Trainers.

A friend of mine in intermediate school wore those fluorescent-orange-with-a-dash-of-slate-blue beauties to school, and immediately I was smitten. I wanted those shoes. More than anything else in the world.

I dreamed about them – literally. And when I woke up, the emptiness that filled my heart on realizing they were not lovingly laced to my feet made me physically ill. All day I thought about them.

Not only did I want those shoes something bad, suddenly my own shoes, the formidable Reebok Pumps (yes, the ones with the orange basketballs on the tongue that, when pressed, filled the shoe with air), were nothing to me. They were second-rate.

Nothing I owned was good enough anymore.

* * * * *

James (the Bible dude, not the British “Sit-down-next-to-me” band dudes) said something that grabbed my attention the other day.

“Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God.”


If my main goal in life is to enjoy this world, then I am an enemy of God?

If my main aim is to live it up, to focus on my own pleasure and to operate within these unfair systems the world has created, then I am setting myself up for a confrontation with the life force behind the universe?

Notice James doesn’t say, “If you enjoy this world” – he says “If your aim is to enjoy this world.”

What are you aiming for? Enjoyment? Pleasure? Self-satisfaction? The American Dream?

Why do you think aiming to enjoy the world makes us God’s enemy?

Now head on over to Halfway to Normal and join the discussion on Writing, Community and Solitude.

9 Replies to “How Bo Jackson Made Me an Enemy of God”

  1. Is that NIV? Patrick said it sounded like it, but I’m not the household expert on post-KJV translations.

    Here’s a question right back at your questions: Is it possible to enjoy the process of moving through this world, illusory and impermanent as it is, without idolizing the things in it? Certainly human relationships are a big part of what makes my stay in this lifetime enjoyable. But that’s a process, even a set of verbs — I talk, I listen, I love — rather than idolatry of objects (although I have to admit I am very, very fond of my Doc Martens boots).

    Patrick wonders: If you end up enjoying the world, even though that wasn’t your original intent — say, as a byproduct of some other goal — does that put you at risk of intending to enjoy it?

    1. That came from the New Living Translation.

      I think the type of enjoying the world that Patrick mentions is the ONLY way to truly enjoy the world – “as a byproduct of some other goal.” I think it’s the dedication to enjoying the world that often puts us at odds with God’s plans and purposes, for us and for others.

      I once heard a man say his goal in life was to live to be 95. I thought this a terribly impractical goal, since it seemed much more likely to me that he would live to be 95 if he set other more enjoyable, challenging and stimulating goals.

  2. I’d have to venture a guess that enjoying gossip and behaviors that are hurtful to others would be actions of an enemy – not an ally.

  3. Notwithstanding James’s elitist views on circumcision, James said a lot about how we should get down and dirty, living in this world the way we find it but trying to make a difference. James’s message has always struck me as a gestalt that’s not as open to the parsing of individual verses, clauses and adjectives like Paul’s message is. What I hear James saying is, “Hey, without some evidence of your compassion to back up your supposed faith, what’s the point?” Being “in the world but not of it” goes along with that, although I’d never hold a junior-high schooler accountable for his wanting a cool pair of shoes.

  4. Wait a sec … YOU fell in love with a pair of shoes?! I remember you saying something to the effect that you thought that was crazy {with regards to a post about me falling in love with a pair of Christian Louboutins}! :) ha ha ha! Well, I think I totally missed the meaning of this post… :)

  5. I too fell in love at the tender age of 14 – although the object of my affection was not an actual object (like a pair of Nike cross-trainers for instance). It was the 1984 Summer Olympics in LA and a spunky gymnast named Mary Lou Retton held my heart. She won the gold, her hometown gave her a sweet cherry-red corvette and she married some stud athlete. My young heart was broken….thanks for re-opening that wound for me!

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