Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The Separation Mentality --- Compassion, Part Four
This is part four of a study on showing compassion to the unsaved. Part One can be found here, Part Two is here, and Part Three is here.
In this fourth posting on showing compassion to the unsaved, I want to share with you a third reason why Christians aren't quick to give that grace to those who don't know Jesus. It's something called the "Separate Yourself" mentality and many of us use it as an excuse to "get out" of "having" to witness to those around us.
2 Corinthians 6:14, 17 says: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" and "Therefore, 'Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.'"
But then, Matthew 28:19-20 says, "'Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen."
So, isn't that a contradiction? Actually, no. While it's true that we are to be set apart from those who do not live their lives according to God's Word, there is a difference between the "unequal yoke" of 2 Corinthians and the command to go out into the world and make disciples that Matthew is speaking of. We can't be very good witnesses if we are so far set apart that we have no unsaved people in our acquaintance or circle of influence. The "yoke" is a joining together: a covenant and strong commitment; such as a marriage or a close friendship. You can only get so close with an unbelieving friend before the issue of religion gets in the way.
We can be separate but still be witnesses of Jesus' love and character. In John 17: 14-18, Jesus prays concerning the disciples: "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world."
In fact, by befriending non-believers, (keeping boundaries and self-control in place) we can actually be a positive influence and show Christ's love without initially saying a whole lot. The Good Samaritan story is a great example of love and compassion in action (Luke 10:25-37). While none of his words are recorded, the Good Samaritan is remembered by his actions. Read John 13:34-35: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." They will know we are Christians by our love! This relationship built on good character and honest love for our neighbor will open doors for dialogue in the future.
This post was featured in The Christian Home magazine, Issue #52.