Another Jehoram Reigns in Judah
16 Now in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then the king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah became king. 17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 18 He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab became his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. 19 However, the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David His servant, since He had [h]promised him to give a [i]lamp to him through his sons always.
20 In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. 21 Then Joram crossed over to Zair, and all his chariots with him. And he arose by night and struck the Edomites who had surrounded him and the captains of the chariots; but his [j]army fled to their tents. 22 So Edom revolted [k]against Judah to this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time. 23 The rest of the acts of Joram and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
Ahaziah Succeeds Jehoram in Judah
24 So Joram slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David; and Ahaziah his son became king in his place.
25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign. 26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. 27 He walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did evil in the sight of the Lord, like the house of Ahab had done, because he was a son-in-law of the house of Ahab.
28 Then he went with Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth-gilead, and the Arameans [l]wounded Joram. 29 So King Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Arameans had [m]inflicted on him at Ramah when he fought against Hazael king of Aram. Then Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel because he was sick.
There’s an idea that I’ve seen challenged a lot lately (for good reason), and it’s this idea that a Christian can’t be friends with non-Christians (aka seculars). A lot of it stems from stories like this, taken too far. There’s also a verse elsewhere that tells believers not to be “unequally yoked”. In the context, God knows that His followers shouldn’t shack up with (or marry) folks that aren’t following Him.
Nowhere did God ever tell us that this extended to friendships, but growing up there was this pervasive narrative that if you were friends with someone that didn’t believe in Jesus, they would drag you down, and it was impossible to win them over to faith.
But how in the whole wide world are we to convince someone that Jesus is worth following if we can’t even be friends with them? I’m coming to see more and more that the whole idea is just absurd. We, as Christ-followers, MUST be IN the world. Sure Paul told us to be “not of the world”, but we cannot help the world if we abstain from it entirely.
Yes, most certainly there is a balance, just as with all our friendships. Even among those who claim to be Christian, we need to have enough friends that encourage and uplift us that we do NOT get dragged into the mud. We need to be building our faith intentionally so that isn’t a possibility and friends are an important part of that. But we must also build relationships and live our faith as Jesus did. He was known to be a “friend of sinners”, and so we should not be fearful of such labels.
Our caution is to make sure our focus is daily on Jesus, and not “yoking” ourselves unequally, but our challenge is to display Jesus in our lives every day, to everyone everywhere we go.