1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 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 people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.”
We live in a culture that loves the idea of “love”. We long for it, gravitate toward it, and are captivated by it. Bloggers write about the hottest couples, magazines publish articles about celebrity romances, and social media networks are filled with posts and pictures about love. Last week I came across a photo of a recently engaged couple with a story attached to the picture. The story was about their journey, how they met, and how their relationship blossomed. I continued to read and came across a portion of the story that left me amazed and touched my heart. I learned the young lady was deaf and the young man was not, and to communicate in a way she could understand he willingly learned sign language. As I thought about the implication of this great act of love I was speechless and blown away. Freedom gives people the choice of who they want to be in a relationship with. And what could have been a deal breaker for many guys becomes a golden opportunity to use this freedom for the benefit of another.
This love story is a beautiful picture of how Christians can contextualize the gospel.
Contextualizing the gospel is using freedom in Christ for the benefit of those we want reach with the gospel. Furthermore it’s finding ways to anticipate objections to our gospel witness and accommodating without violating our conscience and/or stumbling into sin. Adapting to the people we want to win without adopting beliefs that compromise our Christian faith. Paul understood this concept well and lived it out brilliantly becoming all things to all men to win as many as possible. 1 Corinthians chapter 9 shows us how Paul adapted to the religious (the Jew, those under the law), the irreligious (those without the law), and the weak (weak in conscience, behavior, social/economic status, ect.) without adopting their religion, irreligion, or weakness. In Acts 16 Paul had Timothy circumcised as a means to contextualize for a group of religious Jews. In Acts 17 Paul quoted well known philosophers to contextualize the gospel for the gentiles. And the new testament is full of ways that Paul made himself weak to contextualize the gospel for the weak. And the outcome was religious, irreligious, and weak people being won and converted into Christians.
Paul, empowered by the Holy Spirit, adapted to those he wanted to reach without adopting their beliefs and won many people for Jesus. If this concept benefited Paul’s gospel witness thousands of years ago when Christianity was first being established, how much more can it benefit us today? Think of how many co-workers, neighbors, classmates, friends, and family members we can win empowered by the Holy Spirit following Paul’s example! W.L.A.K. recently released their debut album and the lead single is a song called “Imagine”. When the song begins to play you can tell it will be nothing short of epic. The instruments sooth you and move you into a place of deep thought. And as the intro builds intensity the first voice you hear is Christion Gray boldly singing these words, “Today I can see a fallen world, and I can only imagine them falling in love with you, falling in love with you…” If we adapt without adopting contextualizing the gospel think of how our cultures view of love will change. Think of what bloggers will blog about, and what magazines will report. Think of how many broken people in a fallen world will fall in love with Jesus.
I can only imagine…