This text has been used within Christian circles for years as both teaching and warning in circumstances ranging from marriage, to employment, to evangelizing, to simple friendship and many other relational circumstances. But is it the overarching cure-all for maintaining a solid grounding of faith that many of us use it to be?
I think there are too many missed opportunities to foster relationships with those far from God simply because we hide ourselves and our faith behind a misconception of 2 Corinthians 6:14. And I’m not going to go, breaking it down word by word, into some exegesis study as to what this passage means, rather than, in my own humble opinion, what I believe it doesn’t mean.
When I read the story of Jesus, I mean the overarching story from within the four Gospels, I find Jesus “unequally yoking” himself to people all the time…
Mark 1: 16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”[a] 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 9: 9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.
John 12: Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound[a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Jesus sought relationship. No one was “equal” to Jesus, either in belief, or faith. Yet he chose to walk with twelve ordinary, uneducated, blue-collar men for three years. He dined with “tax collectors and sinners”. Why?
Matthew 9: 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
We hear phrases lifted from this passage all the time…coming to heal those who are sick, calling to sinners. Yet the phrase that needs to be lifted here as much as any other?
“Go and learn what this means…”
As fellow blogger, UnkleE, has said in a recent comment, “It’s not rocket science, but most of us Christians can live large chunks of our lives in our own ghettos. I imagine it would be very easy in America, but it can still be done in Australia – go to work in the ‘real world’ but mostly socialise with other Christians. If this happens, we easily develop in-group attitudes.”
Food for Thought: What is the difference between being “unequally yoked” (as Paul speaks of it) and seeking, and establishing, relationship (as Jesus demonstrates)? Do we too often use passages such as 2 Corinthians 6:14 to not get our hands dirty with the responsibility of seeking and saving the lost? Serving those in need both spiritually and materially? Walking with the broken through hardship, pain, loss, addiction? Talking with those of different faiths, different religions, or no religion, who we work beside, live beside, stand beside?
I have to wonder how many opportunities are missed for us to demonstrate our faith to others for fear of contaminating our own. Even without the benefit of words. If we’ve accepted the claims of Christ into our lives, the world knows we’re Christians, whether we out-and-out tell them or not. And their watching. Always.
How different are we? How genuine? How believable? How…Christ-like?