There is a relational strain in which Christians seem to find themselves in today’s unapologetically warped world. They follow the biblical mandate to share the gospel of love and redemption to all who would hear. The result – a slim few accept their message and come into the fold, many will not. “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that lead to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that lead to life, and only a few find it” (Mathew 17:13-14). So what kind of ‘relating’ does the Christian have with persons who choose the wide road and how does interaction with them (and ‘the world’ in general) look on a day-to-day basis?
What happens, for example, when a non-Christian bears her soul about a boyfriend who has betrayed her trust by sleeping with someone else? Does the Christian declare that sex between the girlfriend and boyfriend in the first place is wrong and that the consequence of sin is death? Harsh maybe. How about the female non-Christian who leaves nothing to the imagination in terms of her wardrobe choices? Do you proactively encourage her to cover up? And in the work place, do you stick your head out when unethical practices are being decided by your colleagues, declaring that what is done in the dark shall be revealed in the light? The list of situations could go on.
The point I’m getting at is if we are requiring Christian behaviour from people who never invited the Lord Jesus into their lives and therefore don’t necessarily subscribe to the principles of the bible. Are we expecting red-blooded non-Christian girlfriends and boyfriends to abstain from lovemaking which can be nothing short of intoxicating according to Solomon (Proverbs 5:19)? Or requiring businesses to be squeaky clean and super-charitable? This doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
In the first place, Christians have a hard time keeping themselves sinless and without blemish. Many fall into sexual sin, dishonesty, immodesty and many other immoral practices. If it wasn’t for the blessed Holy Spirit many more would fall without return and restoration for the already fallen, stymied. If it requires a renewal of the mind through God’s word and our best effort to fight the good fight of righteousness with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, how can we in our relating with the non-Christian require the same lifestyle from them if they don’t have access to his power?
Christians are further enabled to give up the pleasure of sin, because they have ‘tasted and seen that the Lord is good.’ They have seen the glory of his power and presence and have submitted to his love, and purposes (well, hopefully). ‘How can I do this thing and sin against my God,’ Joseph asks in the old testament when presented with the opportunity to sleep with his boss’ wife. He can ask that question because he knows his God and knowing and pleasing him outweighs the momentary pleasure of sex with what may have been a sensational woman. So it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to require the unsaved to choose godly behaviours.
The unvarnished truth however is that the consequences for sinful actions remain. The consequence for all of these ungodly behaviours remain whether you are a Christian or non-Christian or if you subscribe to God’s truth or not. Sleeping with your boyfriend outside of marriage creates a bond of the soul that can be destructive outside of the protection of marriage. Infidelity in a marriage can destroy the marriage bonds and cause devastation for the entire family, whether you are Christians or not. Wearing immodest clothing makes the woman appear to be ‘sluttish’ and oftentimes attract the wrong attention. So a Christian, who is true to his or her faith, can’t exactly back away from ‘talking up the tings.’
The key however is prayerfully offering guidance seasoned with God’s love and his continued offer of salvation. So what to tell the girlfriend who was betrayed? Empathise with her for the heartbreak, remind her of God’s love, talk about how amazing God has been in your life (of course this has to be true) and of course pray for her salvation. I would also share that God’s design for relationships is a man and woman submitted to him in love, fidelity and peace under the blanket of marriage, but again I would lean heavily on the Holy Spirit on how and when to speak. What to tell the immodest woman? That she is loved and valued by God and pray for her salvation – I honestly don’t see the purpose in telling her that her skirt is too short or that her cleavage is distracting. The wholeness in her identity that she needs will only come from a true interaction with God and a change in her wardrobe only counts if it is influenced by Him. The goal is to always expose unsaved hearts to God’s glorious love and awesome power. And to the unethical business practices, don’t be silent when it comes to speaking out against corruption but again it is prudent to be led by God’s Spirit on how to open your mouth. Hopefully through your words and actions, they will see God and buckle under the beauty of his truth, power and love.
In the end, regardless of the particular circumstance, we must always seek wisdom and spiritual revelation as this is the only way we can truly be God’s light and be effective in this dark world. Everything must be seasoned with love and prayer. This is how we love the world, like our Father does.