June 13, 2012

Separated but not alone

Every person feels completely alone at times, physically without friends or companions, or in a struggle of being misunderstood, or alone with problems and sorrows. For a Christian, this sense of being isolated is heightened in a culture that does not understand matters of faith, is not interested, or mocks what we believe. This difficulty is heightened further by God’s instruction to take care that we do not unite ourselves with that culture.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14–18)
This separation began with Israel in a literal sense. God located His ancient people in an isolated place, walled by the mountains of Lebanon in the north, a desert on the east, wilderness to the south, and a sea without harbors and navigable rivers on the west. He told them also to be separate, as part of the above verses came from Isaiah, but not only that, they were to put out and even destroy the pagans living in their land.

What happened in their history illustrates the spiritual struggle in the Body of Christ. Christians are set apart by God to declare His praises in a sinful world. We live in it, but are not to have the world’s attitude toward temporal things, nor desire them.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15–17)
Perhaps this necessity of separation from the world is part of the reason we are told to “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). 

Besides many reasons for needing encouragement from other Christians, I also need like-minded companionship lest this isolation from the world drives me to despair, or worse, to go back and renew my former partnership with the world and its darkness.

Lord, You promise to never leave me or forsake me, and I know that is true. However, there are times when every Christian needs the support and even the mere presence of others who know and understand this idea of being in the world but not of the world. Help me to be that support and presence, but also to rely on You to supply it for me when I am feeling isolated.

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