It is passages of scripture like today’s that have led to some of the churches darkest hours. It seems to encourage and promote Christian exclusivity and exclusion. It has led to the church as a whole, as well as individual Christian communities, openly turning its back on all kinds of unfortunate souls. In this day and age, passages like this one are so stuffed with difficult and alien words, like righteousness, wickedness and even the Devil, that the average non-Christian just can’t deal with it. It is misunderstood passages like this that get atheists, the world over, lobbying Governments to “come out from among the believers and separate themselves from them”. There is a lot in this passage that could feed debate for a very long time, but I think in essence it is very simple. It is all summed up quite succinctly by Jesus himself, as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel: “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24 NLT)
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NLT
Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil ? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. ”
For me the hardest things to change as a new Christian have been all the filthy things I have clung to throughout my life. I still swear far too much, and I certainly drink too much, and although there is more, that is the end of this particular confession! So my goal today is two fold. Firstly I want to be sure I can really understand what lessons are being taught in each passage of scripture I read, and remember to apply all that Jesus taught. Secondly, I need to try again to turn away from the filthy, sinful things of this world, in order to fully embrace the welcome of God. Today’s passage is clearly a message, primarily for the individual conscience. As such, as we turn from our old sinful life we must do so with love, compassion and consideration for those believers and non-believers among whom we still live. When whole communities try to separate themselves from unbelievers or indeed, try to remove unbelievers from among them, the risk of love, compassion and consideration being thrown away in the process, is hugely magnified.
Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7, Psalms 47:1-9, Proverbs 22:16