1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Levi Skipper, senior pastor
Concord Baptist Church, Clermont
I had lunch once with someone who was not a follower of Jesus. He was involved in a false religion that had several quirky demands. One of the demands was that they were not allowed to have caffeine.
That posed somewhat of a dilemma for me because I typically order a Coke at lunch time. Now, I know there is no biblical mandate forbidding the consumption of caffeine however, on this occasion I chose to order a water. The reason was pretty simple, I didn’t want to do anything that would automatically cause him to tune me out. I chose to become like him, in a sense, in order to share Jesus with him.
On another note, I recently sought to share the Gospel with someone who had no religious background. How do you seek to share Jesus with someone who has no affiliation with any church tradition?
I had to begin with asking the question of “why we are here?” In both cases, my approach may change, but my theology cannot. We are saved by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone.
That is what Paul the apostle did. He chose to become all things to all people that he might win some. Paul would accommodate the culture of those to whom he was seeking to reach so long as it did not violate biblical principles. When he was speaking with a Jewish person, he would start with the law of God. When he was speaking to a Gentile, he would typically start with God as creator. He would begin where they were in efforts to take them to the cross.
This same principle is noted for us in the Old Testament as well. The prophets would appeal to the people of God typically using Israel’s redemption from Egyptian bondage. However, that appeal was for Jewish people.
So what was the appeal to other nations? Wisdom. Outside the boundaries of Israel was a huge desire in all nations to get and gain wisdom. Christopher Wright argues that wisdom was the international bridge upon which pagan nations were often introduced to the one true and living God. The law and the prophets appeal to Israel’s redemptive history, whereas wisdom literature appeals predominantly to Israel’s convictions about creation.
Even within the pages of the Old Testament we see a different approach to reaching different cultures. The push was God’s mission for the world to come to know Him.
The driving factor of Paul’s life was the Gospel. He was constantly seeking ways in which he could introduce the Gospel to people of all cultures and backgrounds. Like Paul, we are called to be missionaries. Where we live, work, and play is where we should, with open eyes, be seeking to share the good news of Jesus with others.
This takes discernment and intentionality on our part when connecting with others. Like Paul, we must strive to become all things to all men so that by all means we might win some.