All Things to All People
Today’s Scripture Readings:
Psalms 88:8-18 | Nehemiah 9:22-10:39 | I Cor. 9:19-10:13 | Proverbs 21:13
Today’s Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13
“To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:20-22, NIV).
The gospel is a message for all people of all languages and cultures. God’s message of love must be communicated to each of those cultures in a way that they can really understand it. Paul, like any good missionary, understood this principle. He went out of his way to communicate the gospel to each group in ways they would be able to better understand it. He became all things to all people so that by all possible means he might save some.
We must be careful not to put stumbling blocks in the way to understanding the message. We often use language that doesn’t communicate clearly. Even more often we use methods that just aren’t relevant to the audience we seek to reach. Sometimes our methods betray the message and we miscommunicate the gospel.
The gospel should be communicated differently in Mali, Africa than in Manila, Philippines. Different means will be necessary in Lima, Peru than Lima, Ohio. We must seek to understand our target audience if we are going to relate the message to them in a way that really communicates the gospel. The more we can communicate in the “heart language” of the people (their music, their stories, their language, their culture), the better they will understand.
Of course, we must be careful not to compromise the gospel in the process—to water down or change the substance of the message. We must speak the message of the gospel loud and clear.
We have a message for all ages, for all peoples, for all languages and cultures. Let us seek to understand those we are communicating with, so we can better relate the gospel to them in ways that best communicate the truth.
God, give us wisdom to communicate your truth relevantly, simply, and truthfully. Help us to communicate it in grace and truth. May others see the truth of the gospel in even the manner of our presentation. Amen.