Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? – 2Cor. 6:14 NIV
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The conduct of the members of the Church in Corinth, at least in the view of the Apostle Paul has been a bit dodgy probably in reaction to the many tribulations that has resulted from their acceptance of the message that he gave them but more because some new evangelists came into their midst to preach a message which was contrary to what he had preached to them, one of who was Apollos. It had gotten so bad that some had even started questioning the claim of being a disciple by Paul, all in a bid to discredit his message, but there were also as expected, some amongst them who countered such moves. This as expected further divided the Church in Corinth with Paul having to change his plans to avoid unnecessary pain and also preaching forgiveness for all who had grieved him with their conduct – 2Cor. 1:3-2:11. He however took out time in this his second letter to the Corinthians, not only to defend his calling as an Apostle but also his ministry and message he was preaching – 2Cor. 2:12-5:21. In his attempt to pull them back to himself, he reminded them of his several trials and hardships letting them know that it is during such periods that Jehovah demonstrates his support and favour, urging them to leverage on this information that the Prophet Isaiah made available, retain their belief in the message they brought to them and be continue to be receptive of them – 2Cor. 6:1-12. Obviously, the Corinthians were already become withdrawn from them, an action which will definitely negatively affect their relationship with him.
The primary cause of this in the view of the Apostle Paul would be their association with people whom he would wish to class as unbelievers and in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional, he gave them his advise in this regard. They were to avoid associating with unbelievers. Whereas some scriptures used the word “unequally yoked”, some others in a manner that indicated total avoidance simply advised that they should not be yoked with such people.
It may be necessary to break down the Simile used by the Apostle Paul in this scripture which is “yoke” and have the mind of Paul on who he considered as an “unbeliever” in order to have a proper grasp of benefit inherent in this scripture to the Christian today. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of one or two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. Where it is fastened to two animals, it will be expected that the two animals will work in sync to be effective in the task they are to do. Where the two animals decide to pull in different directions, there will always be a negative impact on the success of the intended task they are supposed to implement so there must be a telepathic relationship with both believing in the same goal and the manner of achieving it. It is on this fulcrum of belief that the relationship thrives, as difference in views and opinion will definitely affect the success of the mission in some way.
The Apostle Paul with reference to what is believed, advises the Corinthians to work with people who share their belief in the message as any association with anyone who has a different belief, no matter how little was always going to stall their progress. In what he considers, the work of Jehovah, his advise to them was to seek to associate with only those who have absolute belief in the message he preached to them as any other form of relationship will definitely create the kind of tension that was going on between himself and the Corinthian Church at that time.
That the Christian today will benefit from this advise can not be argued as it is obvious that many have left the faith today because of their association with those who do not share their Belief. In such scenarios, it is either they get pulled away from the Faith or they pull such a person into the Faith but rarely does the situation where any of the above is not the consequence of such unequal association. The Apostle Paul is by no means saying that the believers in the Way should not have any form of association with non-believers but that they will draw the line of association once the conversation, suggested actions and opinion heads in the direction contrary to their belief. It is simply impossible to associate with people who hold different religious views and still retain one’s identity as a Christian. The Christian who intends to remain standing in Faith must make religious conversation with people of different views a no-go area if such is to avoid the type of situation that developed in Corinth. Evil association, the same Paul had earlier told them, corrupts good manners – 1Cor. 15:33. Create boundaries beyond which people of opposite religious beliefs cannot go as that remains one of the major ways to ensure that you are not de-railed on your Christian journey.
The one who for one reason or the other has to interface with unbelievers must be well grounded in Faith to avoid the negative influence that such people can turn out to be. That explains why milk-drinking Christians cannot be saddle with the responsibility of soul-winning as they may end up being won over instead of them winning souls to Christ. May God grant us the Grace to avoid evil companies that will corrupt our belief and derail our Christian journey in Jesus name. Amen.