Working in rodeo, when cowboys or bull riders share advice, it’s often focused on how to be more successful at the sport. A common piece of advice I’ve seen shared among the cowboy crowd is about just that—the crowd you’re in. They advise to spend more time with better, more successful competitors otherwise you risk being brought down by others.
The Bible has something to say about that as well when it comes to growing in our faith.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Despite being written about 2,000 years ago, this is an illustration that should be easy to understand for cowboys, whether on the rodeo or ranch side of the industries.
What happens when an ox or team of horses is yoked together but one is not as well equipped, well trained or strong as the other?
The team can’t work as a team. The stronger horse is having to pull harder. The horse working harder is going to wear down. The horse working harder is going to be held back.
Sure, there are always exceptions, but when it comes to dating, it is common to hear a Christian think he or she can maintain a healthy relationship with a non-believer. The Christian thinks he or she will win that person over to Christ.
What typically happens is, the non-believer fights against the changes the Christian hopes to bring about. They begin living together and the Christian begins sleeping in Sunday mornings with the non-believer because it’s easier than fighting to get the other to go. The Christian spends less time in his or her Bible because they are busy living life with the non-believer. It rarely works.
Outside of romantic relationships, we know we’re not to isolate ourselves from the world around us. We’re commanded to go everywhere to share the gospel and help others to grow in their faith.
But in 2 Corinthians, Paul is warning us not to be tightly tied to a non-believer. If we spend all our time in friendships with non-believers, the same thing happens as what happens in the relationship. It gets easier and easier to spend less and less time with Jesus and more and more time in the world that Paul later in these verses, tells us we need to stay separate from.
2 Corinthians 6:15-18 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
To be close to God, we have to be apart from the world.