Their becoming “Christians” and joining the Christian community has resulted in persecution and expulsion from the Muslim community – not necessarily for following Christ, but for bringing shame upon their family, rejecting their culture and betraying their community.This phenomenon has not only been unfortunate, but often unnecessary as we look at Paul’s instructions —
Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now. For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments. Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. – 1 Corinthians 7:17-20
While the preceding context concerns remaining in one’s marital situation, here the principle applies to religious, social and cultural identity. If someone came to faith while a Jew, he should not seek to change that. Likewise, Gentiles should not seek to be circumcised and adhere to the Mosaic Law and Jewish way of life.
What are the reasons that the apostle Paul advocated, “remaining like”? This passage surfaces at least three reasons:
1. The Lord has assigned to each one the situation in which they were called – their station is God-given.
2. The believer can stay with an unbelieving spouse and yet not be defiled. In fact, the presence of the believer “sanctifies” the unbelieving mate.
3. Remaining in one’s place may bring salvation to that partner.
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