Friday, September 27, 2013

The Yoke's On You!

Today is the final day in our 38th week, reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures* today are:  2 Chronicles 34-35; 2 Corinthians 6.

"Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together (Dt 22:10)."
Today's NT scripture is about being unequally yoked.  2 Corinthians 6:14 (KJV) says:  "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"  Essentially, God's Word is telling us to be careful who we team up with.  Whether it's in the area of romance, close friendship, or business, keep in mind that you can only truly be close to people with whom you share the same values.

God created us for partnership.  In Genesis 2:18, God said that it was not good for man to be alone.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!  Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

As I've often said in weddings and in premarital counseling, the first and second strands in a cord represent husband and wife, but the third strand that holds them together is God.  With God at the center of any union, there is oneness and blessing.  If people are unified in faith in a marriage, friendship, business partnership, or other kind of relationship, then they will flourish.  If there is disunity in the things that matter most, there is bound to be trouble.

Eugene Peterson's The Message puts 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 this way:

Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way:
“I’ll live in them, move into them;
    I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
    leave it for good,” says God.
“Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.
    I want you all for myself.
I’ll be a Father to you;
    you’ll be sons and daughters to me.”
The Word of the Master, God.

Some people believe that interracial marriage wrong, and even claim that the Bible says not to marry outside your race.  Hogwash!  God's prohibitions against Israelites marrying the Canaanite races had nothing to do with race, and everything to do with religion.  Moses had a Cushite wife, and God cursed Miriam and Aaron when they criticized the union (Numbers 11:1-15).  Though she was of a different race, apparently she shared the same faith--and that was the most important thing.  Racially, the Canaanites weren't that different from the Hebrews, but in terms of faith, they couldn't be further apart.  Ethnic differences are nothing--differences in religion are everything.

Some time ago, my teenage daughter told me something that made me so proud.  She had a male friend who was interested in developing the relationship into a romance.  Though she liked him a lot, she knew that God only blesses romantic relationships where the two people are united in faith.  So she told him, "I only date Christian boys.  If I'm going to go out with somebody, then we have to share the same values and world view."  The young man was not a Christian, and took it personally, as if she were being snobby, judgmental, or rude.  But she was simply being true to her beliefs.  And as a result, she found out later, she avoided having to deal with a serious moral difference between the two of them.

A lot of people think that they can partner with someone who doesn't share their same faith, values, and moral background.  God's word says that we shouldn't be unequally yoked, or teamed up with, unbelievers.  It's not that we're better than they are--it's just that oil and water are incompatible.  So too are the divergent values of Christ and the world.  If you think you can team up with an unbeliever, then the yoke's on you!  So be careful who you're yoked with.

*Scriptures taken from the ESV.

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