Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
“Therefore, come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the LORD Almighty. ~2Cor 6:14-18 (NKJV)
He’s been at me. Again. Hitting me hard. Knocking me around. Forcing my eyes open. Each revelation is astounding. Mind boggling. Life changing. As always, He’s working His transformative power through you – through the people who choose to interact with me and share discourse. Through that power and obedience another stumbling block has been removed from my life. Thank you.
I’ve never considered myself to have many friends, but those I’ve considered to be friends have made a huge impact on my life in many ways. Those friends have come to me from around the world. I was proud of my international exposure and connections. Now it’s becoming increasingly obvious that I am not meant to have a friend in the world at all.
My Father God has been steadily stripping me bare. Removing friend by friend. Resource by resource. Shelter by shelter. Refuge by refuge. Crutch by crutch. I’ve just been divested of my last worldly friendship and I sit here in awe of his patience and fore-planning.
I’ve had a few conversations with a new friend in Christ (he prefers to go unnamed). He put some hard-hitting questions, comments and observations before me. After he read Trains, Planes and Automobiles he emailed the following: “What I want to talk about is your friend, aka spiritual sister. She treated you in a way that I read as very disrespectful. Just as in My God and Me you place (so I thought) a lot of emphasis about relationships and events in the lives of people who don’t appear to acknowledge Christ. We are of Christ and saved by his grave, Christ is foolishness to the world, a stumbling block to the Jew, and foolishness to the Greek. Our friendships with people in the world will always be strained because Christ divides because the world is anti-Christ.”
Since reading that email, I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t thought of his words and the verse they brought to mind: Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. (2 Cor 6:14).
I will tell you truthfully, I never thought of any of my friends as unbelievers. They all have a faith. They all believe in God. None of them smoke or drink. They aren’t partiers. They’re hard-working and usually honest. We’ve shared confidences, pains, struggles, dreams, ideas, and hopes. I’ve stood up at weddings and held babies. I’ve traveled just to share a hug and some time. They’ve come through for me when the jobs were non-existent and family was scarce – offering space in their homes, food at their tables and money to get me through the night. And I clung to them like lifelines.
And that’s where I was wrong: clinging to people as my lifeline. I can appreciate that my God is jealous of any distractions stealing the glory and attention due Him. With that appreciation, I can appreciate His removal of all such distractions from my life.
But how great is our God that He blesses His children even through the unrighteous!
I admit to having several defensive comments and explanations for my new Friend in Christ in regard to the relationships I’ve written about. I explained my thinking, my feelings, my habit of holding on until I’m let go, etc. However, my defense didn’t sound substantive even to me. And I kept coming back to this one phrase within his comment: people who don’t appear to acknowledge Christ.
This one stumped me. His observation from my writing was that even my Christian and Catholic friends didn’t appear to acknowledge Christ. That got me to thinking about my broken friendships and how they were living. Again, nothing wild or outrageous, however the one glaring truth was: they were not living Christ-centered lives.
As Jesus started to leave, a man ran to him and fell on his knees before Jesus. The man asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to have life forever?”
Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good. You know the commands: ‘You must not murder anyone. You must not be guilty of adultery. You must not steal. You must not tell lies about your neighbor. You must not cheat. Honor your father and mother.’ “
The man said, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these things since I was a boy.”
Jesus, looking at the man, loved him and said, “There is one more thing you need to do. Go and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” ~ Mark 10:17-21 (NCV)