Summary: Somehow it’s become vogue to cut ourselves off from the world; but God isn’t done with this world yet. One area where God is able to use His people to reach the lost is in our day to day relationships with them.
You may well remember the story of Joshua. Joshua came after Moses and his Job was to lead the Israelites into the promised land. Because the Canaanites were wicked God commanded Joshua to kill every person in Canaan, because God didn’t want the Israelites to adopt the Canaanite lifestyle of wickedness.
There are some Christians who want to take a Joshua approach to dealing with people outside the church - separate from them at all costs. The error in that way of thinking is that We are not Joshua, and this is not cannan. The rules by which Joshua and the Israelites were to take the land of Canaan by force were formed out of the covenant relationship with God true. But they were given shape because God had basically issued an "it’s too late for redemption" decree on the Canannites.
In case we haven’t noticed, God has not issued that decree on our world just yet, there is still time for the unsaved to repent - and until that time is completely closed off, it is our duty as Christians to get out among them and give them that opportunity through our words of witness and our works of witness. One area where God is able to use His people to reach the lost is in our day to day relationships with them.
As much as I agree with the need for a Christian bookstore, because up until recently most secular retailers wouldn’t carry worthy books; I disagree with some of the trends in Christian society. Trends toward "Christian" Restaurants, Christian coffee houses, Christian businesses of all sorts, and in SOME instances even Christian schools. My reason for being against all of these is certainly not because they’re unbiblical; but rather that I see all these distinctly Christian pursuits as preventing as much exposure as possible to a decidedly UNCHRISTIAN world.
As I search the scriptures, God has NEVER advocated a bunker mentality in the church.
Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." That doesn’t mean that the gates are going to attack us and end up breaking. It means that the Gates are out there in the real world and we have the power and authority in Jesus Christ to more than storm the gates, we have the authority in the name of Jesus to smash them.
There is no secular business, no secular government, no godless group anywhere that has the power to resist the relentless overwhelming power of the gospel. It’s time we stop wringing our hands because the government is godless. And stop whining because of all the sex education in the schools. Let’s not whine about it, let’s get into society and overwhelm it with God. I’m convinced that one of the key reasons for the increasing Godlessness in America is namby-pamby Christians who’d rather pull away from "those nasty sinners" than engage them on the stage of society and overpower them with Jesus love.
In tonight’s text, Genesis 21:22-34 we find Abraham making a deal with godless people, and we also get a hint that Abraham’s involvement in his society benefits not just himself, but those around him as well. < read Genesis 21:22-34 >
In studying the text I think we can learn a few important lessons for dealing with the unsaved.
1: KEEP YOUR WORD.
In this passage, Abraham is making a covenant with some fellow named "Abimelech". Frankly we don’t know is name because Abimelech is really another word for "ruler" or king of the Philistines.
Now, why on earth would Abraham make a deal with this idol worshipping crackpot? Because there’s nothing immoral about it. " God’s people cooperate with different people at different times for different purposes, and the discerning believer knows when any alliance is not in the will of God."1
Central to this passage is the idea of making an oath. The word "oath" in the Hebrew is nearly identical to the Hebrew for Seven both of which are often repeated in this passage. The oath of Abraham and Abimelech is certainly the central core of this passage. But oaths are tricky things. In Matthew 5 Jesus says, "Simply let your ’Yes’ be ’Yes,’ and your ’No,’ ’No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Mt 5:37, NIV) That seems clear enough - and in James 5:12 we see: "But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment. " (Jas 5:12, NASB95)
So what’s Abraham doing here? He’s supposed to be a godly man- why is he making an oath? There’s nothing wrong with taking an oath. Hebrews 6:13 tells us that even God made an oath, swearing by Himself that he would bless Abraham.