You are not the same as those who do not believe. So do not join yourselves to them. Good and bad do not belong together. Light and darkness cannot share together. How can Christ and Belial, the devil, have any agreement? What can a believer have together with a nonbeliever? The temple of God cannot have any agreement with idols, and we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live with them and walk with them. And I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
“Leave those people,
and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch nothing that is unclean,
and I will accept you.”
“I will be your father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
Corinthians 6:14-18 (NCV)
Moments before I sat down to read the passages for today, my husband and I were having a conversation about the subject of ‘joining with unbelievers’ in the context of living and socializing in our neighborhood. Bear with me as I process ‘out loud’…
My desire for my biracial children to have a chance to be ‘normal’, which can be somewhat difficult for a foreigner to do in India, makes me eager to get to know who my neighbors are; to reach out and make contact with the mothers, rather than simply warily watching each other across the road from our doorsteps, perfunctory smiles passing our lips. I want to know that my daughters will be cared for when they go to other girls’ houses (even when permission hasn’t really been granted). I want the other mothers, to trust me to look out for their daughters as well. I want some mommy comrades on this side of the planet too, in spite of language and cultural differences.
It would be so ‘easy’ to sequester ourselves into our little apartment, keeping ourselves locked away, ‘safe’ from the unbelievers, separated from the little part of the world in which we live. But I know how wild my kids can get, especially my 2 ½ year old, bounces-off-walls, gets-into-EVERYTHING, social butterfly, and I know from personal experience, it would only be a matter of a few hours before we’d all be mad hatters, and only a few days, till they’d be carting someone off to the loony bin (most likely me).
I assume growing up in America, a place where most of the people who I crossed paths with at least had some foundational belief in Jesus, makes me a little more trusting of people, regardless of religion. I guess growing up in a rural area without many neighbors and then as an adult having the opportunity to experience community, makes me crave that neighborhood feel even more for my family. I suppose to a certain extent I believe that people are just people; mothers are mothers, and children, children.
In these verses in 2 Corinthians, Paul seems to be saying that we should have nothing to do with people who do not believe in Christ; that the ‘good’ should stay separated from the ‘bad’. He cites the Old Testament saying that believers will be accepted by God when we do not come into contact with the ‘unclean’, that we will be sons and daughters.
These verses are often mentioned when talking about the dangers of entering into a marriage relationship ‘unequally yoked’. But, how does this apply to children playing together or mothers talking over fences? Does this mean our family shouldn’t even associate with people who are Hindus or Muslims? Should I tell my daughters they can’t play with the children in our neighborhood because none of them are Christians?
Or, perhaps, I should lay a firm foundation for my children in the ways of God, teaching them while they are young about His sacrifice, His love, His freedom, so that they will carry that with them always (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 22:6). Maybe, I could demonstrate to my children how to be a light within the darkness in our world, missionaries of Jesus’ to others (Isaiah 9:2; Mark 16:15). Possibly, I can I can lead by example the ways of living in this world, rather than living of this world, renewing heart, soul, and mind according to God’s will instead of man’s. (1 John 2:15-16; Romans 12:2).
Yesappa, give me Your wisdom and Your discernment. Help my family be a light that shines in the darkness, a daily example of Your love in our neighborhood. Allow us to be a living Bible to those ‘unbelievers’ that surround us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.