1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Paul shares his attitudes and practices as one called to reach others for Christ. His commitment to this was so strong that he summarized his outlook in this way: "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" (v. 22).
Paul was motivated by a desire to see people come to Christ, and in order for that to happen he became like other people as much as possible. That is huge when you begin to think about it. Paul knew that success in evangelism depended not on gimmicks or human ingenuity but rather he proclaimed that men and women trust in Christ because of the grace of the sovereign God. He never watered down the Gospel; he never compromised to get people to make professions of faith. Yet, this passage also makes it plain that Paul was committed to removing every unnecessary impediment in order to reach people. Paul tried his best to break down cultural barriers and open the way for all people to hear the good news. This got me to thinking what are our cultural barriers that the church puts up that prevents people from being reached?
Paul's missionary work brought him in contact with all kinds of people. He met with Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, men and women, educated and uneducated. His ministry extended to people whose cultural practices we would admire and to people whose ways we would despise. In all of this diversity, his strategy was to become like them so he could reach them. What about us? Most of us do not travel from country to country spreading the Gospel. We do not have to worry so much about cultural changes from one geographical spot to another. Yet, we are not entirely removed from the challenges that Paul faced.
All of us are tempted to think of Christian outreach in particular ways because we have always done it that way. We have grown accustomed to one or two strategies for reaching people for Christ and we also have our own set of cultural do and don’ts, and we're satisfied as long as we follow these well-worn paths. Yet, the paths of the past may not be the most effective paths for reaching people today. Thoughts?