by Rebecca Livermore
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some ( 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 NJKV).
There is often a great barrier between Christians and unbelievers. To some degree that is to be expected, because we view things from a different perspective, and live by biblical principles often scorned by the world. Most often, however, this barrier is in place because Christians have so far removed themselves from unbelievers that they have absolutely no connection with them.
Paul wasn’t like that. He made a point of being like the people he wanted to win to Christ. He did this without compromising or falling into sin. He looked at what was good or morally acceptable in people, and then strove to adopt a similar lifestyle. His sole motivation for doing so was to win people to Christ.
Consider how this might look in today’s world. There are people who periodically provide food, clothing, and other assistance for the poor. That is a good and important ministry. There are others with a desire to reach the poor, who take it a step further: they move into the low rent district, so they can live among the poor they want to minister to. Although both approaches to reaching out to the poor are valid, the latter is more effective.
When we lived in India, one of the highest compliments my Hindu friend paid me was, “Rebecca, you are totally Indianized.” That, of course, was not completely true, but it pointed out that my decision to do things the Indian way as much as possible had not gone unnoticed. I became like the Indian people by wearing Indian clothing, removing my shoes or covering my head when it was the right thing to do, eating gooey, messy food with my bare hands, and doing my best to speak, read, and write the Hindi language.
Perhaps you’re not called to reach the poor by moving into a housing project, or by going to a foreign country and living like the nationals. That’s fine; we all have a different calling on our lives. God may be calling you to reach athletes with the truth of the gospel, as you participate in the local softball league. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom who could develop an interest that can be shared with unbelievers. Whatever you do, look for God-honoring ways to be like the unbelievers you are attempting to reach.
Father, we pray that You will give us creative ways to do as Paul did: to become all things to all men so that by all means we might save some. Help us not to get so comfortable in our little Christian world that we no longer mix with unbelievers. Send us out to be salt and light in the world You created, among the people You love. Amen.
Thought: Is there an activity or interest that you can incorporate into your life that will help you better minister to others? Use your journal to brainstorm some possibilities. (Note: If you don't like to journal, spend some time in prayer on this topic.)
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