Perfectly Matched

My neighbor and family friend owns her own horse-drawn carriage business. Her barn is filled with exquisite antique, refurbished, and custom-made carriages that she drives for hire at weddings, funerals, in parades or at special events.  She has two gorgeous black Shire horses that are brothers and best friends and so perfectly matched that it is difficult to tell them apart.  They eat and play together and are the same size and build.  They are perfectly matched and perfectly paired to pull the carriages.

Because our modern culture is so different from that of Bible times, sometimes it is difficult to understand the word pictures that would have made perfect sense a few thousand years ago.  One of these is found in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15:

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?  Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”

In Biblical times, one would “yoke” two animals together in order to share the weight of a burden.  We could also think of this in the sense of “harnessing”.  In order to yoke or harness a pair of animals together, the animals must be as equally matched as possible.  Their size, strength, gait, and height must be even, or else one of them will end up pulling more than his share, or they will be out of step.

In the classic book Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, the protaganist (a horse named Black Beauty) gives his perspective on pulling a carriage with another horse, Ginger.  I think it’s a good picture of being “equally yoked”.

“I wondered how we should get on together; but except laying her ears back when I was led up to her, she behaved very well.  She did her work honestly, and did her full share, and I never wish to have a better partner in double harness.  When we came to a hill, instead of slackening her pace she wold throw her weight right into the collar, and pull away straight up.  We had both the same sort of courage at our work, and John had oftener to hold us in than to urge us forward; he never had to use the whip with either of us; then our paces were much the same, and I found it very easy to keep step with her when trotting, which made it pleasant, and master always liked it when we kept step well, and so did John.”

When the Bible talks about not being “unequally yoked” with an unbeliever, it means that believers cannot be tied, partnered, or teamed with unbelievers in close relationships, because they will be unable to see things in the same way and therefore they will be incompatible.  Believers have no more in common with unbelievers, aside from basic human experience, than light has with darkness or Christ has with the devil.  They are absolute opposites.  God commands us not to be paired with non-Christians, because we will see the world so differently that the relationship will be essentially going in two different directions.

Many people use this passage in a dating or marriage sense, and truly it does apply.  But this command also applies to friendships and business partnerships, and any other close human relationships.  This doesn’t mean that Christians should not associate with non-believers; after all, we are commanded to “go into all the world and preach the gospel”, and Christ was called the “friend of sinners”.  Imagine what would have happened if believers refused to associate with you when you were unsaved!  Chances are you wouldn’t be a believer right now.  So that is not what Christ is commanding us.  This passage simply means that we should not have close, intimate, trusting partnerships with those who see the world from a fundamentally different and godless viewpoint.  This encompasses close, influential friendships, professional partnerships, and dating/marriage relationships.

So is God just trying to spoil our fun?  Make life miserable to see how faithful we will be to Him?  Force us to live lives of colorless, joyless drudgery in His service?  No, He’s looking out for our best interest.

Imagine pairing an ox with a poodle or a beautiful Belgian horse with a runty Shetland pony.  There is nothing beautiful or purposeful about a partnership like this, and the stronger creature will end up pulling all or most of the weight alone.  Or maybe the poodle will get distracted and want to go somewhere else.  Or maybe the Shetland won’t able to keep up.  This is a fruitless endeavor, and it will lead to frustration and misery.

But I love to watch my neighbor drive her perfect team of Shires down the road.  Not only are they best friends, they are totally alike and perfectly matched.  Everything they do is together.  They’re identical and it’s a beautiful to watch.

Our Father knows what is best for us.  When He commands us to form close, lasting relationships only with fellow believers, it is for our own good and happiness.  Throughout the years, relationships with those who share your worldview and love for Christ will be a great blessing and joy.  You’ll find yourself spared from unnecessary suffering, disappointment, longing and loneliness, and instead will experience rich fellowship and joy, and a companionship that nothing can take away, and that will last for eternity.  God is not trying to steal our joy through this command.  He is freeing us to experience true joy and vision.

Jesus Christ died for you, dear Christian.  He gave His life’s blood for Your sin.  He should be the center of your life and the desire of your heart.  Why would you want to form some of the most important relationships of your life with those who distract from that vision and do not share that love and passion?  He is all that matters.  We chose to prioritize other things in relationships; why not a shared faith in Christ?  Chose to be influenced by those who will only enhance and encourage your devotion to Him.  Like a perfectly matched team sharing the same burden, you will be encouraged by each other’s presence, relieved in your load, and exactly in step.

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