Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law.To those who are without that law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.Now I do all this because of the gospel, so I may become a partner in its benefits. 1 Cor. 9:19-23
Sometimes you’re sitting down to blog at 11:00 pm, and your teenage son comes in to ask you if you’ll dance to Rihanna’s, “We Found Love” for a music video he and his friend are putting together for YouTube. Now that I think about it, that might possibly just be my life, not any of yours. But try and go with it anyway. I can’t really blame them. I admit, with me in their video, it would be sure to go viral…only probably not for awesomeness in a proud-to-show-my-face-ever-again sort of way. It would be more along the lines of a crazy-double-rainbow-guy-oh-my-wow-that’s-embarrassing experience. They tried to sweeten the pot, telling me that they would put a link to my blog on the video when it’s finished. They’re good. Very good. After all, the more people outside my circle of friends who start hitting this site, the better. It was subtle, but the message was clear: “Do it for Jesus, Cynthia.” But then I remembered the double rainbow guy, and Antoine Dodson and his red bandana-wearing cry for social justice. I wish them the best in their pursuit of YouTube greatness, but I think I’m going to have to decline.
It makes me think. Not about dancing on YouTube, but about what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. We live in a world where people will do whatever it takes to make a name for themselves. Someone who prefers blue jeans and sneakers will put on a suit and tie to get the job. A person who loves rock music will sing country if that’s what it takes to sell records. People will leave their families, give up their jobs, and endure 40 days of every kind of discomfort to go on a reality show in hopes of winning a million dollars. We’ll go to great lengths to be known, but will we also go to great lengths to make God known? Without ever in the slightest way sacrificing his commitment to scriptural integrity, Paul did whatever he needed to do, and became whatever he needed to become. He was a guy who refused to let cultural differences deter him from his one purpose in life – proclaiming the name of Christ.
I think I’m a pretty open-minded person without a lot of hangups. Still, it’s so much easier to just hang with “my people” than to branch out. And I have to ask myself, are trips like the one I’m taking to Uganda the only times that God wants me to adopt an “every possible means” type of attitude? Of course not! Are mission trips, blogging, and public speaking the only times that I’m certain I do have that attitude? Maybe.
This passage raises more questions for me than I have answers or thoughts to share. Do I want to share the gospel so much that I am I willing to make myself a slave to other people so that I might? Am I more interested in making myself known, in having my own identity for others to recognize and appreciate, or in relinquishing my own rights for the sake of Christ? Are my pride and my comfort more valuable to me than another person’s eternity? What would, “so that I may by every possible means save some” look like in my life, right here in Midlothian, Texas?
Here’s what I do know. It is as much our responsibility to…
invite conversation on campus with people who dress and act differently,
join other parents in the bleachers at a basketball game,
help a homeless man,
get to know our neighbors,
bridge generational gaps,
ignore racial boundaries,
spend time outside our cubicles at work,
reject social class hierarchies,
and engage in relationships with our children’s friends and friends’ parents
…for the purpose of making Christ known, as it is to go on a mission trip. Any person who truly has a personal relationship with Christ cannot help but want to share the message of salvation and grace with others. To not long for others to know Him the same way is a horrible contradiction…one I am afraid that Christ’s church makes more often than not. But it doesn’t have to be that way today.
What are you willing to give up, to say, to risk, and to do to make Him known?