Sunday, March 18, 2007

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 -- Fellowship with Who?

14Do not be yoked together (partnership or close relationship) with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." 18"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

Many believe that it is a noble role of Christians to engage in and seek friendships with non-believers in order to reach our world. This is often referred to as “friendship evangelism”. However, how do we reconcile this theory of Christian life with Paul’s exhortation to not be in close relationship with non-believers? When Christ is in us, we are not to unite ourselves with the world. Jesus spent much time ministering to sinners (unbelievers) but he didn’t become close friends with them. Ministry, sharing, serving, and having compassion on others are completely different than yoking ourselves in close relationship with others. It is clear in scripture that we are to help others in need: both physical need and, more importantly, spiritual need. However, we must remember that we are to be “in the world, but not of the world” in close fellowship with the world (those living in darkness). This is not harsh. Rather, this is reality and Paul is instructing the Corinthians on this matter to protect them from being polluted by the world. We are called to remain pure and “touch no unclean thing” and our Father “will receive us”. So let’s continue to minister the gospel to the world, but let’s heed Paul’s warnings to not fellowship too closely with it.

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