By Okey Onuzo
I was looking at some of the responses so far received from the people who have taken time to react to the earlier Meditation – CALLED TO BE DIFFERENT, and saw that there is the need to expound on this in order to make it a little clearer to some who may be wondering how to proceed from there. And by the way, let me use this opportunity to thank those who have reacted to the meditations now and again and those who have visited the website. The feedbacks and the visits are quite encouraging, so please keep them up.
There are quite a few who may be seriously wondering where to draw the line in this call for separation from the world. There is the monastic mentality at the one extreme and worldliness contamination at the other. What the Bible advocates is contact without contamination. The apostle Paul addressed this in his letter to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 (NLT) 9 When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasnâ€™t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Donâ€™t even eat with such people.
We must stay in contact with unbelievers but we must not allow their ways to invade our own way of life as Christians. We must stay engaged with unbelievers but never imbibe their practices. This is what contact without contamination is all about.
We must note that separation began in the Old Testament. Moses emphasized and reemphasized this in his valedictory remarks in the Book of Deuteronomy: Deuteronomy 7:2-6 (NLT)
2 When the Lord your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must … Make no treaties with themâ€¦ 3 You must not intermarry with them. Do not let your daughters and sons marry their sons and daughters, 4 for they will lead your children away from me to worship other godsâ€¦ 5 This is what you must do. You must break down their pagan altars and shatter their sacred pillars. Cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols. 6 For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.
The idea behind separation is so that the Christian could maintain a holy outlook and lifestyle that will be distinct from the unbeliever and which is entirely geared to the obedience of Godâ€™s will and Godâ€™s Word. This is why we must examine our ways constantly before the LORD to ensure that we honour God in the world. It was customary here in Nigeria some thrity_some years ago to tie celebration parties to evangelism. A friend of mine had his 40th birthday party at the motherless babies home in Ibadan for all the deprived children. He felt that was the true meaning of the principle found in Luke 14:12-14 (NLT) â€œ12 Then he turned to his host. â€œWhen you put on a luncheon or a banquet,â€ he said, â€œdonâ€™t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous,
God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.â€
Contact without contamination is a constant challenge that requires the communion of the Holy Spirit to always stay in balance. But an active conscience that has not been deadened by habitual compromise will always signal when we are about to cross a crucial boundary. This is where what we do must speak louder than what we say.
But how can one really be sure where the balance is and is this always that easy to determine? I sense that there are principles that should guide us as to what constitutes contact without contamination.
The first is those clear instructions in the Word of God on questions of morality and ethics.
The second is the view of unbelievers themselves as revealed in these Scriptures. Romans 2:24 (NLT) â€œ24 No wonder the Scriptures say, â€œThe Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.â€ What the world says about how we live and what we do is vital to our witness in society. The way I live must not blunt the impact of the Gospel I preach. 1 Timothy 3:7 (NLT) says: â€œ7 Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devilâ€™s trap.â€
The third is the view of other brethren in the fellowship and the community. Many years ago, an American evangelist came to Nigeria wearing a gold chain around his neck and a bangle on his left arm. Some mature brethren approached him to request that he should please remove them as he might give the impression of someone using a charm to the people coming out of idolatry.