Jump Start # 2735
2 Corinthians 6:15 “Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?”
Our passage today comes from a section deep with contrasts. Within the context of several verses, Paul illustrates for us a true definition of fellowship. Here he uses the following words:
- Bound together (14)
- Partnership (14)
- Harmony (15)
- In common (15)
- Agreement (16)
And, the contrasts listed here are about as opposite as one can imagine. Some mistakenly think Paul is talking about the marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian. But further study within these verses really upsets that logic. Paul would say, “Come out from their midst and be separate” (17). If applied to a marriage, Paul is saying that those who have married a non-Christian need to end that marriage. That flies in the face of what the Lord said about divorce in the Gospels and what Peter told Christian wives to do to convert their unbelieving husbands. Here, Paul doesn’t mention that. He doesn’t say change them. He says have nothing to do with them. No, this is not talking about marriage.
The contrasts listed here are all religious or faith-based. We find:
- Righteousness and lawlessness (14)
- Light and darkness (14)
- Christ and Belial (15)
- Believer and unbeliever (15)
- Temple of God and idols (16)
Contextually, Paul is trying to get the Corinthians to pull away from idols. They have nothing in common with idols. There can be no merger between idolatry and Christ. There is no blending or mixing of the two systems together. They are opposites. They are not going the same direction. There is nothing in common with them. Idolatry is false and always will be false. Truth by it’s very nature is narrow, exclusive and defined by God.
You’ve seen the COEXIST bumper stickers that has all the emblems from the world’s religions in such a way that they spell “coexist”. That’s impossible. That’s the pipe dream of someone who has never studied religions and has no idea what is going on in the world around them. Just how can a Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian “coexist?” Who Jesus is, is not agreed upon by the three groups. What the New Testament is, is not agreed upon by the three groups. Then you add in fringe progressive philosophies, and there is never a way that they can agree unless they give up what they believe. There are some things that just cannot be tolerated. In fact, to tolerate error is wrong.
But in our verse today we find a simple question. “What has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” Certainly, if we were to be picky, we could find some common characteristics. We both have life. We both need food, water and air to survive. We both share the planet. Reality tells us that we both will die someday.
The drive of Paul’s thoughts are not in the obvious physical things, but in the spiritual. What spiritually does a Christian have in common with a non-Christian? What is important isn’t going to be the same to both. What value systems we have are not going to be the same. What authority we govern our lives by will not be the same. The importance of prayer, Bible, and worship is not the same to both groups. The value of the church is not the same to both groups. The importance of being a servant, supporting the kingdom, and doing all that you can for the Lord is not the seen the same for both groups. Even simple things such as what movies to watch are often not the same for both groups. Morality, ethics, service, kindness, grace and forgiveness are certainly not viewed the same for a Christian and an unbeliever.
A Christian and an unbeliever can work side by side. It may be toxic and hard for the Christian, but many do it every day. A Christian and an unbeliever can live side by side. Many do that. There are situations in which that can be hard for the Christian, but it can be done. Even within our families, we have those who are Christians and those who are not. There are times that is difficult and very trying.
It makes sense for those who are wanting to follow the Lord and please Jesus in all areas of their lives, to surround ourselves with those they have things in common with. This is not about liking the same football team or place to eat. This is about ideology. This is about philosophy of life. This is about what makes us tick and how we are wired. The more and more you have in common with someone spiritually, the more they can help you and you can help them. Now, stretch this thought to include friends. Those we really pour our hearts out to and rely upon when we need them. Common or not so much in common? Do I have more friends who are unbelievers or believers? Do I find myself fitting in better with unbelievers than believers? If that is the case, I best take a serious look at my faith and my walk with the Lord.
Now, stretch this even further to include dating and marriage. We said at the top of this that the passage is not specifically talking about marriage, but Paul’s question certainly must be considered. What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? There are simple things within worship that not being on the same page will surface very quickly. How often are you going to services? All the time? What if the unbeliever only wants you to go once a week? How much are you going to give? What if the unbeliever doesn’t want to put that in the budget? What about having people over from the church? What about drinking? What about skipping services? What about praying? What about…Is there anything in common spiritually?
What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? A question that the Corinthians needed to answer. A question that we need to answer, as well.