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Friday, March 25, 2022
In 1972 I experienced my first earthquake. It was really nothing more than a little jiggle, but it surprised me. There was no damage, and over the course of the next three months I learned that those little tremors were quite normal in Fairbanks, Alaska. I still noticed every one of them. Scientists tell us that earthquakes happen when the geological plates beneath the surface of the earth shift and rub against each other. Sometimes they can be deadly. In 1995 a violent earthquake occurred in Kobe, Japan, when two plates on a fault line fifteen miles offshore suddenly shifted against each other, violently lurching six to ten feet in opposite directions. The result was the worst Japanese earthquake since 1923. Thousands died. More than 46,000 buildings lay in ruins. One-fifth of the city’s population was left instantly homeless.
The destruction unleashed by those two tectonic plates depicts what happens when a Christian partners unequally with a non-Christian. Two people committed to each other but going in different directions can only lead to trouble.
When I was a little boy my mother would sometimes say to me, “John, I know just who you’ve been playing with today.” She knew because I had become something like the other boy, whichever one it was. She could identify my playing partner because I had become like him in speech, mannerisms, and actions. There were always telltale changes in me that gave away who I had been hanging with. Children often copy other children quite unconsciously. So do adults. We are affected by the people we spend time with, in one way or another.
It seems to be so easy for us to rationalize and justify our connections with people who have no interest in obeying God. We even go to the extreme of lying about it. We choose a very valid and biblical reason for “reaching out” to them, like wanting to influence them for Christ, when in reality we are connected to them so that we receive some personal benefit. There is only one valid reason for being in relationship with an unsaved person – to connect them to God. It must be our true motive. It cannot be about connecting us to them, or them connecting us to someone we think we need. It’s about total commitment to Jesus Christ and His commission to connect people to Him.
Dale Hays, writing in Leadership magazine, tells this story. “On a recent trip to Haiti, I heard a Haitian pastor illustrate to his congregation the need for total commitment to Christ. His parable went like this:
“A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn’t afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one nail protruding from the wall inside the main. After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So first the owner went out and found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the nail which he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail. The Haitian pastor’s conclusion: “If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation.”
Therefore, do not be partners with those who are disobedient to God. Relate to them only enough to share with them the love of God but be very careful not to let the pendulum of influence swing in their favor. Be alert – you can be influenced. Be strong and be the influencer for Christ!