Growing up in the youth group at GWAC I remember our youth leaders talking on numerous occasions about the importance of dating other Christians, rather than non-believers. As a teenager, I thought I was invincible, and my faith was invincible. I also thought the faith of my friends was invincible until they started to date non-believers. One by one I watched as many of them left the church, and eventually their faith, due to the influence of their non-believing partner. Looking back, I can see the influence these partners had on my friends and ultimately the impact it has had on their lives.
Today’s passage is encouraging the people of God in Corinth to separate themselves from the pagans of Corinth and the cultic life they would have been pursuing. The five questions in verses 14-16 highlight the separation Paul is calling for. There are many examples of Paul calling people to engage in their world, as he does in Acts 17, so this isn’t a call not to engage the world, but not to get bound up and tied up with the world.
Primarily, this passage is about the whole church at Corinth, setting itself apart from the cultic practices of their day, and living lives that honour God and demonstrate our reverence for him. Sometimes we don’t notice the effect those we stand alongside can have on us, especially those who aren’t believers. One way we can see this effect is through the influence of non-Christian partners, another is through unethical business contracts or other activities that might bind us to, or encourage us to step into behaviours that don’t honour God. Where are we allowing others to influence us? Reflect today on any relationships that might be causing you to engage in behaviours or thoughts that are not honouring God.