October 03, 2007

Unequally Yoked?

Copyright 2007: Dr Gregory J. Laughery

One of my recent suggestions in my book Living Spirituality for reading Scripture was that we develop wise and Spirit-fired reading habits. I think we need to be more intentional about and actively aware of the significant dangers of misreading the text. Efforts to counter this, combined with better readings, will help transform our communities and churches, while inspiring a more faithful and fitting embodiment of Scripture, which can then be lived out into the world. The magnitude of this in turn could have a profound impact on highlighting and affirming God’s missional purposes in reconciling the world to himself in Christ. Let’s give the reading of a controversial text a go. Here’s the text I’d like you to consider. Read it carefully and if you have time read what comes before in this letter.
2 Corinthians 6:1-7:1

 1 As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. 2For he says,
   "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.

Paul's Hardships

 3 We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

 11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
Do Not Be Yoked With Unbelievers

 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
 17 "Therefore come out from them
      and be separate, says the Lord.
      Touch no unclean thing,
      and I will receive you."
 18 "I will be a Father to you,
      and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

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