Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Becoming "An All Things To All Men" Christian

Paul is, in my opinion, the best example of how to do ministry and evangelism. I believe, whether we like it or not, we as believers send a message to those in the world around us.

Yes, we should share our faith with others, but I believe the greatest influence in peoples' lives is how we live everyday, 24/7.

Think about it for a moment. Think of the top 5 titles of sermons which have touched your life. Now think of 5 people that have touched your life. Easy enough, right?

Paul mentions, in 1 Cor. 9:22, a way to really evangelize and do ministry, as he says, "I have become all things to all people so that by all means I might save some."

What is Paul saying? What does he mean? What does this passage tell us about making a difference in the world in which we live? What can we learn from the verse? Do some miss out on the meaning of this passage? How do we become "an all things to all people" Christian?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.


Blogger Terry said...

Interesting topic, Kinney. Thanks for bring it up.

Sometimes I have misunderstood this passage to mean, "Become a people-pleaser." But as I thought more about it, I realized that Paul was a lot of things, but nobody would accuse him of being a people-pleaser.

At this time, I have come to the conclusion that it means, "Be as flexible as you can be with different kinds of people." Try to enter into their world as much as possible without compromising your faith or integrity. Try to develop rapport with unbelievers.

I am interested in what others may have to say about this topic, too. The difficult part for me is when I meet someone with whom I cannot find a way to connect.

9:59 PM  
OpenID said...

He relates. He makes friends. He's genuinely interested in relationship with others.

10:12 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Wonderful thoughts Terry and Westcoastwitness. I appreciate your thoughts on this topic.

I found a quote that I believe fits this topic. "Live in such a way that those who know you but don't know God, will come to know God because they know you."

11:41 PM  
Blogger jel said...

morning PM, and family

9:07 AM  
Blogger DJG said...

I think your quote sums it up...we can't get caught up in our "elite" society and look down our noses at people who are not like us, people who have different struggles and even people who are knee deep in a sinful lifestyle. We have to be able to see through the outside into a heart that is loved by Jesus.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

So often we desire people to come to Christ and be like us.

Maybe we have it backwards?

10:53 AM  
Blogger cwinwc said...

I agree with westcoastwitness. I think Paul saw the need to be able to use the prevalent culture to connect with people. When he was with Jews he could quote law. When he was hanging with Greeks, he talked about philosophy.

To me it would be paramount to being in Florida and brining up College Football or being in Kentucky and talking basketball.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Crowm said...

Earning the right to be heard is what it's all about. I believe the church has done a huge disservice to many by attempting to whip them into submission.

Let's establish relationships (in a variety of arenas). Those genuine relationships are what allows us to share God's good news.

11:59 AM  
Blogger magdalune said...

I like metaphors, so let's go with a metaphor.

Paul was a chameleon. He was able to change according to his environment - but he didn't completely change. It was just the surface. He was still a lizard the whole time. It was why he was able to talk with a variety of people and say different but specifically significant things to each kind of people.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Dwayne Hilty said...

Great question Kinney and likewise, good conversation. Two thoughts came to mind for me...

First, power dynamics. Paul (and Jesus) seemed to go about ministry in such a way that empowered people around them. Both of them had enormous power chips to play, but it seems as though they didn't base their ministry around controlling others. In this way, I think the American church has all too often gone about "evangelism" in a way that ensures impurity doesn't get in. Building wall instead of bridges.

Second, it seems like Paul was pointing towards "Engaging" culture rather than taking a posture of "indulgence" or "escape." While I certainly think Paul called Christ-Followers to holiness, he assumed a posture of befriending the unchurched. Relationships have already been said, but I think the relational theme is so important to living out the mission of God.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Brian Bowen said...

Yeah Im with all them

Kinda like not being afraid to go where "sinners" go. Not being afraid to engage them where they are. And not just looking at people, but rather looking into and through the kingdom to see people as God sees them. Then simply walking along side them and connecting the kigdom of heaven to the kingdom of earth.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Paul Ford said...

apostle Paul said this:

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. - 1 Corinthians 11:1

And looking at Christ again, I see how that He ate with tax collectors a few times (Matthew & Zacchaeus) and both times, the "religious people" could not understand

Mark 2:13-17
(about Matthew's account)
Then Jesus said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

Luke 19:1-10
(about Zacchaeus's account)
Then Jesus said, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

3:47 PM  
Blogger Scott Packett said...

Great topic!

I believe he is saying that he didn't expect the dark sinful world to act like they had the light. He knew that the dark world needed a glimpse of light to see the one from which light comes.

He got on their level, but never compromising the gospel of Jesus. He lived it (the gospel) out in his everyday life, as well as he spoke of it often. However, sometimes he spoke about it in terms of the culture, not in 'Christianese' with all the thou's and thee's.

Simply put, we are to go shine the light in the dark places of this world, without compromising the gospel, always guarding ourselves with the armor of God. We are not simply to invite people to be a part of a christian gathering (church), but invite them to be a part of our everyday lives, at the same time sharing with them the riches of the gospel.

Become all things to all people, we represent all people with one exception...we have Jesus. That is what we need to focus on. Having Jesus in no way puts you high and above anyone else, instead it moves you to a humility and sadness for those around you. They need what we have...Jesus.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Mork said...

In essentials unity ... in non essentials liberty ... in all things love.

9:35 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Powerful Mork!

10:37 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

You hit it right on the money. We need to be engaging culture as Pual did. I believe that it is so sad that so many Christians want to isolate from the world. You look at the ministry of Jesus and He spend time with the adulters, prostitutes, drunkards, tax collectors, and other sinners. Are we willing to associate with prostitutes, adulters, drug addicts, alcholics, divorcees and other sinners? Are we willing to offer those who really need God the hope and grace that we ourselves have recieved? Are we ready to get out of the walls of our buildings and engage the world? I hope and pray that beleivers will be the light that God wants us to be in the dark world in which we live.

If you want to address these question that I mention in this comment as well feel free. I am enjoying this discussion.
Thank you everyone.
Keep the comments coming! :-)

10:45 PM  
Blogger The Ponderer said...

Becoming all things to all men should be kept in balance with the commandment to take up the cross daily. That way they see you as human being but one with a supreme purpose.

8:17 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I really like your Supreme purpose statement. I totally agree. Engaging culture with a supreme purpose. Amen!

9:17 AM  
Blogger Liz Moore said...

I think it means meeting people where there are. That doesn't necessarily mean you do the things they do, but you relate to them without judging. You have to be Jesus with skin on to the world. You may be the only reflection of Jesus they see. So let them see the love, caring, forgiveness and compassion of Jesus.

Thanks also for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and encouragement! Blessings!

10:22 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I think you are right on when you say, "You may be the only reflecction of Jesus they see." You are so right.

12:19 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

how about the Holy Spirit working through Paul was all things to all people and Paul was the vessel in which the Holy Spirit flowed.

so Living according to the Holy Spirit was his way of becomming...all things to all people.

that would take a bit of letting go of his own opinion of others and even of his self.

6:14 PM  
OpenID said...

Ooo - Magdalune, I like that!

10:31 PM  
Blogger Dave Brumley said...

This is a great post. I think that Paul may be saying that we should not really care what the world thinks but just roll with the punches and continue to live our Christian lives. I think back to what Paul writes to the Corinthians when he tells them he has become a "fool for Christ." The world saw him as a fool but he would be whatever they wanted to call him in the name of spreading the Gospel.

11:46 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I have thought about the people that Jesus spent time around. He spent time with "sinners" and in "sinner places" in order to offer forgiveness and salvation. Are we willing to get out of our buildings and go to sinner places offering a better life? I wonder how many prostitutes are picked up to go to worship on Sunday mornings. I wonder how many addicts and alcoholics get the help they need and are offered the hope that Jesus offers. Would your church want prostitutes, addicts to come and worship? Are we willing to go to the place where they are even Skid Row to offer them salvation? Are we doing our job of making disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).

10:38 AM  
Blogger Dave Brumley said...

Hey Preacherman. In regard to your last comment I could not help but think about Jesus' parable of the dragnet when he tells us that the kingdom of heaven (that's the church) is supposed to be like a dragnet that fishemen use. We are supposed to "fish for" every man of every kind and let God worrying about sorting them out when they get to shore.

8:54 PM  
OpenID masterdesigned said...

One of my favorite quotes is by Warren Wiersbe which states:
"methods are many, principles are few; methods always change, principles never do."

When it comes to God, the one unchanging principle is His love. How we share that love is as multi-faceted as each person. His principle of love has never changed, but how He showed that love to each person is uniquely theirs.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Christop said...

I think that becoming all things to all people is important. But I think we have real limitations in doing this. For example, middle class or working class Christians hanging out with the poor can rarely actually become one of them, simply because they have the option of havinga proper well-paid job and living in a 'decent' area of town, whereas the poor probably don't.

The other thing is I don't think it's a great idea to try to be too many kinds of person to too many kinds of people.

(Thanks for the visits Kinney.)

7:44 AM  
Blogger Jungle Mom said...

I came over via 'Pastoral Ponderings'. I am a career missionary now serving in Paraguay.
I find people are more interested in a 'conversation' than a 'lecture', which is still the common approach used by many Christians in evangelism.
I did a post yesterday on the church in post modern America. I would be interested in your thoughts on that.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Cheryl Russell said...

I love this verse, but I think it scares people. There is a prevailing idea that practicing this verse means conforming to the world. I think Paul is urging us to stand strong in our relationship with God, so that, we can be in relationship with those around us, even those who are very different. Paul's audience changed, but his message about Christ never did.

12:01 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I really liked what you said, "Paul's audience changed but his message never did." You are so right. Thank you for that bit of wisdom.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

Every once in a while, one of our ministers calls us to ask us to pick up a homeless man at a local cheap hotel or someplace similar. Sometimes we give people rides home from church, too. As an urban ministry, we have several homeless people, addicts, HIV-infected people, and others who attend on a regular basis. We have been blessed with a great church that I sometimes take for granted. Thanks for asking about whether we would be willing to associate with such people. I think that most of your readers would, if given the opportunity.

9:49 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I agree that most of my readers would as well. I think it is so wonderful that your congregation is making a difference in the lives of people who are hurting both physically and spiritually. I believe this is the way we should do ministry in the 21st century. I will be keeping that ministry in my prayers daily. Thank you again for your wonderful words.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Brandon Scott said...

Love me some Mork!

great post again! This is near and dera to my heart right now. I don't really see it as becoming all things in our terms today...but relating? Making friends? Being genuinely interested in relationship? YES!!! SO crucial! Authenticity is key. Hard. SO hard. But such an exciting, EXCITING adventure!

Thanks for bringing this topic up!

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