Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK SIXTEEN
ORBIT – DAY SEVENTY FIVE
Hello and welcome to Orbit – a resource for daily time with God, created by the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Each weekday we give you a bit of the Bible to ponder, plus a practical way of applying it to your life today.
BIBLE READING – 2 Corinthians 6: 14-16
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What 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.”
When I was growing up, this verse was regularly used to bash me and the other members of the youth group over the head. Why? Because at the time it was widely interpreted to suggest that Christians should not date non-Christians. “Do not be yoked with unbelievers,” says Paul, calling to mind a metaphor which doesn’t make a lot of sense to us today. It’s a picture from the world of first-century farming – if you had two oxen pulling a load, and one was weaker or shorter than the other, the cart didn’t go anywhere – it just went around in circles. The idea is that if you team up with someone who isn’t a match for you, it’s hard to be on the same mission.
Yes, in an ideal world, that probably applies to dating. If your faith is important to you, and you want to dedicate your life to God’s mission, then it’s probably going to be really helpful to have relationships and then marriage with someone who loves Jesus the same way that you do. But… if we make this verse and passage all about dating(!)… I think we miss quite a lot.
The number one sin that God is concerned about in the Bible isn’t sex or violence, but the sin of idolatry. Taking something else, and putting it in God’s rightful place at the centre of our lives. We were made to be Satellites in orbit around God – not money, or national identity, or our favourite football team. These other things can become idols which take the place of God – and when that happens, we can never live life to the fullest way that God intended.
As we’ve said a lot on Orbit, God designed us to be a family who are working together on a mission in the world: to see his Kingdom come. We do that – seeking justice, loving others, sharing our faith – as a team. But it’s really hard to do those hard things when our team-mates don’t share our passion for them. If our team-mates are distracted by idols: money, sex, power and the rest – it’s going to be very hard for us to change the world. If you can possibly picture a first-century farm: it’s like one big ox and one small ox, ploughing around a field in a circle.
I think we need to become comfortable with the idea that we and our non-Christian friends are not quite the same. We long for them to join the church family, but until they do, they’re always going to be motivated by different things to us – it makes sense that until they believe in God, they can’t live in orbit around him.
Traditionally, this has been seen as quite a negative passage. But let us flip it, and see it more positively: Paul is encouraging us to build our team, and make sure it’s full of the right people. If we are caught up in God’s adventure; his mission to change and save the world, then it’s only natural that we will want to do it as part of a great team. What Paul is saying is: “make sure you are part of a team who are as passionate about the cause as you are.” Yoke yourself to great team-mates, and give yourself the best chance of making an impact.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
God I thank you for your amazing plan to bring your family together and use us as a team to transform your world. I pray that you would help me to identify and appreciate my team-mates – and lead us together in your adventure today. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
Think about your friends, and particularly those who also follow Jesus. How can you team up with them in meaningful ways to advance God’s kingdom? What could you do together, that would be less effective if you did it on your own? What could you start? How could you pray? Who could you tell about Jesus together? Think of at least one friend, and contact them today to invite them to team up with you.
If you want to get in touch, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Instagram – we’re @stmarys_satellites. Let us know what you think of this daily reflection – please – we’d love your feedback.
We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!