Monday, July 22, 2013

Paul's Passion

1 Corinthians 9: 19 – 23 (NCV) I am free and belong to no one. But I make myself a slave to all people to win as many as I can. To the Jews I became like a Jew to win the Jews. I myself am not ruled by the law. But to those who are ruled by the law I became like a person who is ruled by the law. I did this to win those who are ruled by the law. To those who are without the law I became like a person who is without the law. I did this to win those people who are without the law. (But really, I am not without God's law—I am ruled by Christ's law.) To those who are weak, I became weak so I could win the weak. I have become all things to all people so I could save some of them in any way possible. I do all this because of the Good News and so I can share in its blessings.
Paul lived his life with deep passion. Even before he met Christ (Saul in those days), Paul persecuted members of the early Christian church, setting out to suppress and destroy everything it (the church) represented at all costs. He also publicly acknowledged his part in the stoning of Stephen (the first Christian martyr). As passionate as he was about killing Christians, there was a defining moment on a dusty road where the paradigm shifted.
In an instant Saul, the persecutor of Christ followers, bumped into the very Christ he loathed. There, in the middle of the road, Jesus gave him a new passion - reaching the unsaved. Along with that new passion came a new name… Paul.
I like the way these verses in 1 Corinthians show us how Paul chose to reach people. He met them where they were; he felt their pain, looked at life through their perspective. 

To the Jews I became like a Jew to win the Jews. I am not a person who is ruled by the law but became like a person who is ruled by the law. 

It was through this common bond that Paul was able to show people  the love of Christ. He became a slave to them, it says in verse 19. Look closely, it doesn’t say that he allowed the people to influence him in any way, he was guided and directed by Jesus each step of the way. Paul was simply following the model Jesus set when He (Jesus) walked the earth. Jesus came to serve – not to be served. So too did Paul set out to serve the people he met with zeal.
But why? Why would he even bother to do that? He was an educated man and had a personal encounter with Christ that drastically changed his life. All he really had to do was tell people about his experience, right? I think Paul understood an important aspect about reaching people. He knew people weren't really going to believe or care what anyone has to say until a need is met in their life. He made people feel comfortable and accepted, and was very sensitive to where they were in their life. He looked for opportunities to show people Jesus – and he reached his known world for Christ.
So let’s personalize it. How are you reaching people for Christ? Are you condemning or judging them for their unbelief or ungodly world view? Or, have you gone out of your way to meet a need in their life?

We can reach more people for Christ by just showing up and meeting a need rather than telling people they are going to hell if they don't change their ways.
Related reading: Matthew 16: 25; Matthew 20:26 – 28

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