“You’ve got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away, know when to run…”
Thanks Kenny Rodgers, this is some wisdom right here. I’m going to tie it in with some Charles Spurgeon, so bear with me here…
The idea of compromising in order to win people to your cause seems pretty relevant today. Prophets turned promoters, teachers whose sole focus is on loving and embracing everything are pretty mainstream these days. Is God really asking us to unite no matter what and avoid division at all costs?
“If good men were all for union and bad men for division, or vice versa, that would simplify things for us. Or if it could be shown that God always unites and the devil always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing world. But that is not how things are. Light and darkness are incompatible; to try to have both in the same place at once is to try the impossible and end by having neither one nor the other, but dimness rather, and obscurity.
Truth is slain to provide a feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and all to support a concept of unity which has no basis in the Word of God. When confused sheep start over a cliff the individual sheep can save himself only by separating from the flock. Perfect unity at such a time can only mean total destruction for all. Power lies in the union of things similar and the division of things dissimilar. Maybe what we need today is not more union but some wise and courageous division.” Charles Spurgeon
Unity at any and all costs isn’t Biblical. Unity amongst believers isn’t the same as unity with the world. We are many times warned against it:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
In John 17, Jesus is praying for His disciples and repeatedly acknowledges that “they are in the world” (v.11) but “they are not of the world” just as He is not (v.16) It’s a popular Christian saying, I think there’s even a popular song about being “in it not of it…”. But Jesus follows up this distinction with something pretty important: “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (v. 15) He continues by saying that He has actually SENT us INTO the world (v.18).
So we are in the world, but we do not really belong to the world. The danger isn’t our existing here, it’s that we are living side by side with evil. His prayer for us is not that we be plucked out of the world, but that we be kept from the evil one. How is that accomplished? Discernment.
Spurgeon reminds us that light and darkness cannot “coexist”. We are inhabitants of this world but we are never once asked to conform to it or compromise with it. We are sent to speak the truth in love, but that truth cannot be compromised to please the masses. Promoters are all about publicity, popularity and pleasing the masses. Disciples bring the truth, regardless of circumstances or how it may be received.
The concept of “shaking the dust off your feet” is given to us by Jesus in Matthew 10 as a way to deal with those who reject the message. It’s ok to fold ’em and walk away. In 1 Timothy we are warned to withdraw ourselves from men who suppose that “godliness is a mans of gain” (v.5).
If we want to avoid being an offense to the world, we are in the wrong business. The gospel is more often like a surgeons knife than a band-aid. It’s often bitter before it’s sweet. It cuts to the soul and calls all the darkness inside us out to the light. If we cling to His truth and know when to walk away from what is not of Him, we find our sweet spot. Not all unity is blessed – and not all division is bad. Truth makes us grow, while compromise kills.
Lets see what can happen when we let God show us what to hold and what to fold.