Day 18 - Relentless Commitment

Day 18 - Relentless Commitment

Written By: Pat Hardin

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.  1 Corinthians 9:20-22 (ESV)
This may sound like a confusing passage, or maybe it is just redundant and boring to you. Have you ever read this passage and wondered if Paul was being wishy-washy and not standing up for his beliefs? It could sound like he was changing his beliefs in order to fit in, much like a chameleon changes its colors to blend into the surrounding environment. I have considered that viewpoint a couple of times, and have discarded it as unfounded. Rather, I believe Paul is teaching a fundamental principle that drove him to share the Gospel throughout the known world.

Think of someone you know who believes that a person can only be saved by coming to church, walking down the aisle and praying with the preacher, and following up in baptism. They may even believe only one translation of the Bible is accurate, that there is something called the sinner’s prayer that must be recited, and that you have to come to church dressed in certain clothes with a certain appearance. Isn’t that a rather narrow interpretation of the Gospel message, especially in light of today’s passage? That is asking people to conform to our way of doing things rather than being willing to go where they are and meeting them on their terms. Jesus went to where sinners were and met with the people nobody else wanted to be around. He even shared many meals with some of the least desirable people in the society of his day. Would you be comfortable hanging out with the most egregious sinners and reprobates of society? Paul could, because he understood that becoming part of the culture was similar to Jesus coming to earth and becoming a human. If you are having trouble with this view, read Philippians 2:4-8 and ruminate on the idea that Jesus did exactly what Paul is describing in today’s passage.

I think Paul is teaching us to identify and understand the culture around us so we might be able to deliver the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ in an easy to understand method for the hearing audience. If your kid is playing on a t-ball team, perhaps your assistance as a coach or team mom is required in order to discern the culture of the team and association you are aligning yourself with by registering for t-ball. As you coach and build relationships with team members and their families, God may open a door for you to share Jesus with them, and to invite them to come and join you at church. That person is more likely to accept your invitation if they have seen your kindness and leadership toward their children, rather than if you yelled at them on a street corner about turning from their sin to escape the fires of hell. God will use our efforts no matter what, but Paul is suggesting that we use our relational equity to invest and invite friends and acquaintances to come and see the Jesus we serve.

If you think this sounds impossible, let me tell you that it is not. My grandson played t-ball, his dad and I helped coach, and near the end of the season this 4 year old invited his teammate’s family to come to the Grove. They accepted his invitation and have become regulars on Sunday morning. They have joined a community group, and we have begun to see their newfound faith blossom as part of the church family. “All things to all people'' does not mean compromise, it means discovering some type of common denominator between you and the person God has nudged you into sharing the Good News about Jesus with, wherever that might occur. The reason we do this is found in verse 23, “…that I may share with them in its blessings.” It has been such a pleasure to see new people coming into the Grove family. Are you inviting someone to join you next Sunday?
Invite someone that you have become friends with recently to join you this Sunday at the Grove. You might even invite them to lunch afterward and really begin to build a stronger relationship. Some amazing things have happened around a table during a meal.
Ask God to reveal to you someone in need of Jesus, and to grant you an opportunity to invest in a relationship with that person.

Father God, please grant me a burning desire to see my lost friends and acquaintances come to know you. May I be ready to read the culture, discover the commonality, and seize the opportunity to invest and invite, for you glory. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.