Summary: To reach our postmodern culture we need to be like Paul and give up our freedom to live safely inside of our own culture and become all things to all people so that we might win some to Christ.
Becoming all Things to Win Some
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
Freedom is a privilege that comes with great responsibility. In Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible (Colossians 1:16). Humanity was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) with an amazing gift called free will. While God has given us the right to do anything we want, including disobeying Him, He expects us to be like Jesus and do His will. Since it is God’s will that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), we are called to preach the Gospel message to everyone we meet. By the power of His matchless grace, God has produced in our hearts a burning passion for the salvation of others. To reach them will not be an easy task! The diverse cultural backgrounds of our North American culture often mean that using a “canned” approach to spread the Gospel message is going to produce little or no fruit. To reach our postmodern culture we need to be like Paul and give up our freedom to live safely inside of our own culture and become all things to all people so that we might win some to Christ.
SURRENDERING FREEDOM TO BECOME A SLAVE
To be effective in evangelism for Paul meant that the salvation of others was more important than claiming, possessing and preserving his own rights. In the ancient Greek and Roman world of Paul’s time the principle distinction made by law persons was that all human beings were either free or slaves. Being born a Roman citizen, Paul was not “owned” by anyone. Paul was so interested in putting away anything that might hinder the Gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:12), that he also chose to not take a wife or any payment for his ministry endeavors. After all, in Paul’s time the more you paid a speaker the more one could boast ownership over that person. Even though Paul went through great efforts to maintain his freedom from others owning him, he chose to become a slave to all cultures everywhere. For a person to become a slave in Paul’s day meant giving up one’s identity, a social death, in which the person becomes a surrogate body for the slaveholder. For Paul this denying of self was necessary to emulate the pattern of Christ who emptied Himself (Philippians 2:7) and became a slave to all! Paul denied self by adapting his personal behavior and methods of preaching to three particular groups of people: the Jews under the law, those not having the law and the weak.
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