Scripture: Deuteronomy 7:1 When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you—the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations mightier and more numerous than you— 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them. Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for that would turn away your children from following me, to serve other gods.
Observation: Moses continues his speech to the people before they cross the River Jordan into the Promised Land. A key instruction for them was to completely eradicate foreign peoples given into their hands by God. Why would it be necessary to kill every man, woman and child – as gruesome as that sounds? So they would not be tempted to follow their gods.
Application: Just yesterday I wrote how Christians are called to be engaged in the world of unbelievers, not to isolate ourselves into a Christian bubble. If you were wondering where this impetus to isolate ourselves as people of faith comes from, here it is. God the Father gave these instructions to the people of the ancient Old Testament. It presents a bit of a challenge. If God wants us to keep ourselves away from people of other faith traditions, or no faith at all, how are we supposed to share faith with others?
First, it’s always important to remember context. In the Old Testament we see God reveal himself to the world via his unique relationship with the people Israel – and not anyone else. In the New Testament, we see God open the doors of relationship to ALL peoples (not just the Jews) via the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hence the isolation of the Old Testament had to give way to the relational engagement of the New Testament.
Which brings us to you and me. The only way I know to share faith is via relationship. As God brings people into relationship with us via friendship or family bonds, we then have the possibility to influence them in a Godly way. BUT we must always be aware of the natural human tendency to become like those hang out with. Yes, we can influence those far from faith via genuine relationship, but it’s important we not lose our bearing toward God in the process. Influence goes both ways doesn’t it?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have called us to share life with others so that we might share faith with them. Give us the strength be faithful to this call, yet not allow ourselves to be drawn away from you in the process. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.