This life lived abiding in Jesus Christ is beyond compare. The fact that I live in fellowship with The Father, in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit leaves me speechless. The fact that this life is possible because the Father wills it so makes me rejoice in humility. And yet, this life can be frustrating. There are so many things I don’t understand and answers to my questions do not come all at once. I often quote Philippians 1:6 to myself: “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” I am confident that the will and purpose of God will be worked out in me but I am not always patient with the process.
I’ve had some difficult times over the past several months. I couldn’t put into words how I felt. I was angry certainly but at the same time broken-hearted. I also felt isolated. There were communities I longed to be part of but, as I listened to what they were saying, I knew I could not. It wasn’t until today when I came across Jeremiah 15:17 that I understood what I was feeling. This passage states, “I sat not in the assembly of those who make merry, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because Your [powerful] hand was upon me, for You have filled me with indignation” (Amplified).
Indignation. I thought this was a good word to sum up what I was feeling but I looked it up in the dictionary to be sure. My Webster’s New World Dictionary gives this definition of indignation: “scorn resulting from injustice, ingratitude, or meanness; righteous anger.” Yes, this is exactly what I have felt. And, I have sat alone. Doors have closed all about me and I didn’t understand why. And then, this week, I had an experience where the same thing kept cropping up. It was mentioned to me, then it popped up in a newsletter, then someone else mentioned it, then I was sent an email…: six times over the past week this thing was mentioned and, each time, I grew more and more indignant. Not one of those sources shared my indignation. I went to God and asked Him if I was overreacting.
I am not. I remembered the word translated “church” in the New Testament is ekklesia (G1577). It means “a calling out”. I was also remembering two portions of scripture and kept repeating them to myself. One was “Come out from them and be separate,” and the other was “touch not the unclean thing.” I did not remember these were parts of the same passage: 2 Corinthians 6:17. For a bit of the context, I’ll start in verse 14: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship had righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God. And they shall be My people.” Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (verses 14-18).
I have often heard this passage quoted to mean “unequally yoked” is a warning against marrying someone who doesn’t share the same faith. I see it more as a warning for everyday life. It is practically impossible to reach a goal if I’m trying to get there with someone determined to head in the opposite direction. No, I take Jesus’ yoke and heed His calling to come out and be separate. I do not mean I go live in a cave like a hermit (though there are times I wish I could!): I am separate while remaining in the world. (See 1 Corinthians 5:9-10). Jesus Himself prays “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16).
I look at these scriptures and understand what they are saying but how then do I live? What does it mean to be separate while still in the world? For me in this moment, it means holding onto my identity in Jesus in the midst of great pressure. What is that identity? I am everything the New Testament tells me I am In Christ. I am the temple of the Holy Spirit, a living stone in the spiritual house of God, a member of the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, a holy nation, one of God’s special people, made to proclaim the praises of Him who called me out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9).
I hold on to my identity but remember who everyone else is as well. I define my actions toward them by the words of God Himself who declares, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:43). I obey the words of the Apostle Paul who says, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
I seek to diffuse His fragrance wherever I go and, knowing my flesh still wars against the Spirit, I pray: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies” (Psalm 141:3-4). I trust that my steps are ordered by the Lord, He delights in my way, and though I stumble I won’t fall because He upholds me with His hand (Psalms 37:24).
And when I must sit alone because His hand is upon me and He has filled me with indignation I accept the loneliness knowing I am not ever alone because He is with me. I accept and listen to His voice always ever seeking to follow the Lamb withersoever He goest and heed His call to “come out and be separate”.
“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2b).
Unless noted otherwise, all scriptures are quoted from:
The New King James Version of The Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
Guralnik, David B., Webster’s New World Dictionary of The American Language, William Collins+World Publishing Company, Cleveland-New York, 1974
Strong, James, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990