Out of, in to

The first time I read that Yahweh was a jealous God, it didn’t sit right with me [Exodus 20:5, Deuteronomy 4:4]. Why would God Almighty be jealous of His creation? What does anyone have that He needs [Psalm 50:10-13]? But my paradigm was faulty because God’s jealousy is about exclusivity, not insecurity, resentment and the like. That was more apparent after I became a husband, like God [Isaiah 54:5]. My wife and I forsook all others and bonded ourselves to each other for life in an exclusive covenant before God and man. Neither my wife nor I would tolerate a violation of that exclusivity. So, why would God, who has a superior covenant with us, share us, His bride, with another?

For most of my Christian walk, I heard little about the exclusivity a relationship with God demanded. Of course, I knew the first commandment, and I heard phrases like: “I will be your God, and you will be My people” [Jeremiah 31:31-33], “You cannot serve God and Mammon” [Matthew 6:24],  or “Be Holy, for I am Holy” [1 Peter 1:16]. But they were often quoted to address a narrow context. Yet, around me, especially in my adolescent years, syncretism was rife. It was acceptable to mix traditional practices with Christianity in many social settings. Churchgoers often said, “This is how we do things here… ” as they violated scriptural prohibitions to conform to cultural mores. Many of these behaviours and practices were so commonly accepted that even after a person ‘gave their life to Christ’, they saw no reason to shun their old ways. Often, it was hard to tell Christians and non-Christians apart because they behaved the same way and believed the same things.

Yet, the Bible speaks directly to syncretism when it says believers have been called out of darkness into God’s marvellous light [1 Peter 2:9]. Much is said about darkness as the antithesis of light in Scripture, but fundamentally, they’re mutually exclusive and cannot mix. So, you walk in the light or darkness, not both [John 1:4-5, John 8:12]. You must choose a side [Deuteronomy 30:15-20]. Jesus even warns that if we try to straddle both sides, He’ll spew us out [Revelation 3:15-16]. We cannot mix our walk with God with practices that promote idolatry – the pursuit of other gods, including money, fame and power, and witchcraft – sorcery and fraternising with mediums and evil spirits. Neither can we claim to follow Jesus while clinging to immorality in any guise. Just as God doesn’t mix with darkness, He expects the same of us [James 1:17]. Holiness is a non-negotiable for every child of God [Leviticus 11:44].

Abraham was the first to be called out [Genesis 12:1]. Leaving his country, kindred, and family implied leaving behind their cultural norms and ideologies. The same principle is emphasised in the Exodus. God first separated His people from the surrounding influence of Egypt, and then through Moses, He gave them instructions on how to live like His people [Exodus 19:4-6]. Their lives were to be distinct from the surrounding nations because of their exclusive covenant with Yahweh [Deuteronomy 18:9-14]. It’s noteworthy that when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah, he selected the best and brightest of the next Jewish generation with the insidious aim of indoctrinating them with the mores and ideologies of Babylon [Daniel 1:1-5]. Thankfully, Daniel and his friends resisted [Daniel 1:8-20]. They understood that their allegiance was solely to Yahweh, and His covenant with them ultimately dictated their worldview and choices, not Babylon.

Like Abraham, we are called out of every tribe, language and creed, and made a kingdom of priests to serve our God [Revelation 5:9-10]. Accepting that call implies leaving behind our previous way of life, practices and ideologies to conform to a new way of life [Romans 8:29]. Our primary allegiance is no longer with our country, kindred or people, but with our King and His kingdom [Colossians 1:13, Matthew 6:33]. So, choosing Christ brings a clear separation between the life we once lived and the one we now live [Galatians 2:20]. The distinction is so stark the Bible compares it to the difference between being alive and dead [Ephesians 2:1-7]. That’s why believers are a peculiar people – uniquely equipped to display Yahweh’s glory [1 Peter 2:9]. God Himself separated us from what we once were with the blood of His Son [Colossians 1:14]. Having redeemed us at such a great price, of course, it’s unacceptable to Him to share us with another [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].

On this side of eternity, we find ourselves in Babylon, like Daniel. So, we must actively discern God’s will if we’re to walk in holiness [Romans 12:2, Colossians 1:9-10]. Babylon is rife with idolatry, witchcraft and immorality because it lies under the dominion of darkness, but we as the called-out ones have the mandate to bring light to a Godless culture and confound the powers of darkness [Matthew 5:14, John 1:5]. Therefore, we must become skilled at distinguishing between good and evil [Hebrews 5:13-14]. Like Daniel, we must keep ourselves unsullied by the world and be prepared to stand for righteousness [2 Peter 3:14, James 1:27b]. As such, don’t mix Christ with culture and politics – stand solely for Christ [2 Corinthians 5:20], and don’t sully yourself by mixing the ideologies and practices of Babylon with your faith.

We’ll face opposition from those we’ve been called out from when we stand against syncretism and other ungodly practices. But He that’s in us is greater than he that’s in the world [1 John 4:4]. So, our victory is assured, irrespective of what Babylon does [1 John 5:4-5]. Our King already refuses to share us with another. How much more will He jealously defend us when we take a righteous stand for Him?

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