All Things to All People

“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. … To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people …I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:19 Apostle Paul was committed to removing the cultural and social barriers that get in the way of the truth.

The first example I witnessed of this attitude was during the early Jesus movement.

A few church leaders, like Pastor Chuck Smith, rose above their personal tastes and prejudices and accepted long-haired hippies and the music that came with them into their churches. Chuck admitted that he wasn’t too thrilled, but his wife, with a heart of deep compassion for these lost kids, convinced him to open his heart and his church.

A young woman in our church set out on her first cross cultural mission trip. One of the greatest lessons she learned was the importance of adapting her dress style (from southern California beach to more conservative), and her food tastes to accommodate her hosts.

She said she ate more strange things in a few weeks than she had eaten in her whole life— but she also learned to respect other cultures and how much more receptive people are when you do.

Every day, we can find opportunities to “die to ourselves” and adapt to the will of God as we learn to respect and love other people in their own cultures and worlds. Sometimes it means stepping out of our comfort zones.

More often, it means not passing judgment on personal tastes in music, worship styles, dietary preferences, dress, hairstyles and a host of other “non-issues” unless they seriously cross the moral guidance of Scripture.

It means totally abandoning ourselves to God’s will, with a goal to live out His great commandments:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matthew 22: 37-40). And, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations"(Matthew 28:19-20).

 

DEVOTIONALSRay Bentley