Day 27 I Corinthians 9:16-27

“I become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (v22b)
I want to know what this means in my life. I want to hear the LORD calling me into relationship with my neighbors, with strangers, and knowing how to connect with them and honor their humanity for its own sake, and for the sake of the Kindom. This morning at the chamber of commerce networking meeting, one of the members gave a ‘thought for the day’. “If you want to really serve your customers, you have to really know them.” I was inspired and challenged by this. As an introvert (without using that as an excuse) I am challened by ‘small talk’. It is not something that comes very naturally to me. In Paul’s letter, I don’t thnk he is talking about changing his personality. Rather, he is describing a process of cultural sensitivity and accomodation (with limits). I think some of my attempts to live this way have been interpreted by others as duplicitous. I am not, like Peter was, living with openness toward irreligious folk only when the ‘righteous’ were not around, and then quickly dumping my new friends when the religious folks show up. But, I do attempt to taylor my message to my audience, which has gained me some criticism.
Another challenge this text presents is that, in the life of a congregation, we can not be ‘all things to all people’ in the sense of meeting every felt need around us. We do have to target, be specific, which is really what Paul was saying – when ministering among a particular people group, he targeted his message to their ears. This requires being a sociologist as well as a psychologist.
One last thing in this text: Self-discipline! Paul may have been one of those hyper-disciplined people anyway, or not. Either way, he is so right about the importance of self-discipline and how its lack will hinder if not destroy one’s witness. I’m not sure how to adequately repent of the consequences of my lack of self-discipline over the years – and I know myself well enough that only with God’s help will I be able to do better in the future. Proverbs regularly reminds me of the need for discipline in my life, within which I may live in freedom in Christ.

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