Rivalries are often in good fun. Perhaps you have a favorite football team, and you enjoy the “rivalry game” each year. Growing up in Alabama, it was often quite clear whether one’s allegiances were to the Alabama Crimson Tide or to the Auburn Tigers. But even in activities such as sports, rivalries can get out of hand. Imagine a rivalry over something as important as the ministry of the church, the worship of God and the conversion of the lost. Paul was an Apostle set apart by God for the proclamation of the Gospel, and yet there were many who opposed Paul. Some set themselves up as rivals to his teaching and were proud of their own giftings. This ought to be a warning to us not to be swept up by those who point to their own abilities ultimately; rather, we ought to seek teachers that point us to Jesus Christ.
Paul’s response to these teachers who set themselves up as Paul’s rivals serves as a backdrop for the book of 2 Corinthians. And when we come to 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, we see Paul quite concerned that false teaching is seeking to disrupt the church. The Corinthian church is being tempted to allow worldly principles to shape its practice. Paul, in this passage, gives a warning both to the church and to the individual Christian not to have a partnership with that which is in conflict with the Gospel of Christ. As a Christian is in union with Christ, this precludes a union with idols.
Paul is not saying that a Christian is not to live in the world and not to interact with the world; in fact, Paul well knows that Christians live in the midst of an unbelieving world. Along with this, Paul is entirely devoted to evangelism of the lost. But Paul is concerned that the church not allow its doctrine, worship or practice be shaped by the unbelieving world. And Paul is also concerned that believers live according to the Word of God—it is in this that believers will be able to share light in the world.
Paul gives the command in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” His command is in essence not to be in any partnership that diminishes our claim to union with Christ. Paul goes on to demonstrate this with a series of questions. One of those questions is “Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (verse 14) Christ Himself is said to be the light of the world, and John tells us in the opening of his Gospel account that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Christians have hope in the true Light, Jesus Christ, and in union with Him we may share that Light in the darkness of this world. Have you found this Light? Have you been brought out of darkness into Light in Christ? Join us this week to consider Christ, the great salvation offered in Him, and how He impacts our life and worship.