By Margaret Mangani -
AS youths who are believers is it right to keep away from friends who are non-believers.
What about the saying that bad company corrupts good morals does it hold?
Being an ardent listener to Radio Christian Voice, (RCV) recently this author had an opportunity to be glued to a phone-in programme for youths where the callers had to give diverse views on the hot topic of ‘If it was right for believers to mingle with non believers’.
It was interesting to hear most of the comments by the callers who were also tuned in to the same programme.
The programme was rather educative and interactive to the point where some of them were even questioning that if as believers they keep away from non-believers what about the question of evangelism.
But looking at the Holy Bible, it provides an answer to such a question. The Holy bible gives guidance on how a believer can counsel a non believer without falling into sin.
To any parent that would have listened to such a programme it should have triggered in them deep thoughts about the nation with a population of about 15.72 million now mostly comprising of youths.
It was such a rare moment to accord the youths such a platform to voice out their feelings about this emotive topic.
It was amazing at some of the comments that were being elicited on the topic at hand coming from the youths.
Nothwistanding youths account for a substantial number of the total population of the nation, it is also a fact that they are the future leaders of tomorrow and as such expected to participate in the economic affairs of the country in a more positive way.
But at the same time, it is interesting to delve into their social lives and hear from them some of the challenges that they face daily and how they can tackle them.
When you take a closer look at some activities youths engage in it baffles one’s mind as to what kind of future we shall have.
Nowadays youths engage in vices like smoking, drinking from sun rise until sunset, drug abuse, violence and riotous behavior.
For those who are jobless, they engage in all forms of immoral conducts that are appalling so to speak.
Not to talk of early pregnancies among school going girls.
On a daily basis in the media are stories of youths who indulge in all sorts of vices instead of being productive or contribute meaningful to the development of the nation.
Yes! Government may not provide enough jobs for all youths but it is prudent that such young minds should endeavour to venture into entrepreneur activities that would keep them away from all kinds of vices such as those that would land them into serious problems with the authority.
One wonders why the young generation has degenerated to such low levels that no one adult can fathom or even endangering their own lives.
Coming to the topic at hand here is what the apostle Paul who said, in 2 Corinthians 6:14–18 where he takes up the question of close relationships with non-Christians.
Up to this point, Paul has vividly portrayed the importance of good relationships with the people with whom we work.
Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 5:9–10 that we should work with non-Christians, and he discusses how to do so in 1 Corinthians 10:25–33 (see 1 Corinthians 10).
But perhaps there are limits to the intimacy of Christians’ working relationships with non-Christians.
Paul tells the Corinthians, “Do not be mismatched with unbelievers,” as the NRSV puts it, or to translate the Greek term (heterozygountes) more literally, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.”
His words are reminiscent of Leviticus 19:19, which prohibits mating different kinds of animals together, and Deuteronomy 22:10, which prohibits yoking an ox and donkey together while tilling the land.
These two Old Testament precedents refer to mating and to work, respectively.
We are concerned here with work. What, then, are the limits in working with non-believers? Perhaps the key is the term “yoked.” When two animals are yoked together, they must move in lockstep. If one turns left, the other also turns left, whether or not it consents.
This is different from, say, animals grazing in a herd, which cooperate but still have the freedom to move separately and even to depart from the herd if they choose.
If two animals-or, metaphorically, two people are yoked, each is bound by whatever the other chooses to do.
Two people are yoked if one person’s choices compel the other person to follow the same choices, even without their consent.
A yoking is when either person is bound by the unilateral decisions and actions of the other.
Paul does not want us to be unequally yoked. So what would it mean to be equally yoked? Jesus has already given us the answer to that question.
“Take my yoke upon you,” he calls to those who follow him (Matt.11:29a). Paul tells us not to be unequally yoked with nonbelievers because we are already yoked to Jesus.
One part of his yoke is around us, and the other is on Jesus’ shoulders. Jesus, like the lead ox in a team, determines the bearing, the pace, and the path of the team, and we submit to his leadership.
Through his yoke, we feel his pull, his guidance, his direction.
By his yoke, he trains us to work effectively in his team. His yoke is what leads us, sensitizes us, and binds us to Jesus. Being yoked to Jesus makes us partners with him in restoring God’s creation in every sphere of life, as we explored in 2 Corinthians 5:16–21.
No other yoke that would pull us away from the yoke of Jesus could ever be equal to that! “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Jesus tells us (Matt.11:29b), yet the work we are doing with him is no less than the transformation of the entire cosmos.
When Paul tells us not to be unequally yoked in working relationships, he is warning us not to get entangled in work situations that prevent us from doing the work Jesus wants us to do or that prevent us from working in Jesus’ ways.
This has a strong ethical element. “What partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness?” Paul asks (2 Cor. 6:14).
For comments or email@example.com. To be continued tomorrow.