Friendship With Unbelievers
2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV) -- Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Every Christian faces a conundrum of how closely they can walk with unbelievers in the world. My meaning of “walk” is befriend and spend time with. Teenagers and college students face this dilemma. But older adults face this too. Whether it is with neighbors, co-workers, or other parents at your child’s sports activity, Christians must navigate the relationship they have with those who are not Christians.
Our passage today gives us some very clear instructions on this, and it is important we think through its implications. Paul writes to the church in Corinth, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
The statement “unequally yoked” is often referred to when speaking of Christians marrying unbelievers. We are instructed not to do it. Christians set themselves up for a world of hurt and disappointment if they knowingly marry an unbeliever. The reason is because the core commitments of your life are totally different. If one desires to live their life to honor and please the Lord, while the other has no commitment to Christ at all, this is going to cause friction at 10,000 different points of the marriage. Paul uses this same language when discussing friendship with the world.
His explanation for Christians is that Christians who desire to pursue righteousness and obedience to God can only have so much in common with those who pursue lawlessness. People who walk in the light can only participate in so many things with those who walk in darkness. Some might respond, “But aren’t we supposed to try and reach unbelievers?” That’s a great question and observation. We are. Paul’s instructions in this text doesn’t keep us from trying to share Christ with unbelievers, it is a warning about guarding how close we are with unbelievers. The reason for this is we are prone to adopt their views and lifestyle if we primarily only keep their company.
Exercise wisdom in navigating friendship with unbelievers. Recognize that walking with them can lead you to imitate their lifestyle. Yes, we should seek to reach the non-Christian. But Paul’s warning reminds us of how vital it is that we carefully guard our relationships.
Reflection & Journal:
- What does it mean to be “unequally yoked”?
- How can believers navigate the tension of evangelizing the lost and exclusively befriending the lost?
- Why does this matter so much?
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