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Like The World 

HTR Blog 29-06-2022


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.
1 Corinthians 9:21-23 (NIVUK)

I recently read a story about the famous William Booth (Methodist preacher and founder of the Salvation Army): One Sunday evening, Booth was walking in London with his son, Bramwell, who was then 12 or 13 years old. Booth surprised his son by taking him into a pub! The place was crowded with men and women, many of them bearing on their faces the marks of vice and crime; some were drunk. The fumes of alcohol and tobacco were poisonous. "Willie," Booth said to his son, "These are our people; these are the people I want you to live for and bring to Christ." Years later, Bramwell Booth wrote, "The impression never left me."

I think Paul had a similar view of and approach to his ministry. He desperately wanted to tell everyone of God’s love. Everyone. Not just those who looked like him or talked like him or thought like him. Everyone. And in order to do that he became like those he ministered to. It makes sense when you think about it.

I have come to the realisation that a lot of evangelism (i.e. giving people the opportunity to experience God’s love and to respond to it) is based on relationship. Preaching is one way to tell someone of God’s love, but in most cases these days, the preacher is literally preaching to the choir, while the people who desperately need to hear the good news of Christ and experience his love are outside of church doing their own thing. Relationships build trust, and trust can open doors that preaching often can’t.

I suspect our approach to following Christ’s great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) should change. We need to rethink how we go about giving people opportunities to experience God’s love. And the first thing that comes to mind is inclusivity. We have to ask the question: Is anything we are doing to build God’s kingdom (or the way we’re doing it) excluding anyone from experiencing God’s love; his inclusive, free to all, unreserved, unconditional love?

Something else I’m thinking about is diversity. Are we trying to make people look/think/speak like us before we feel comfortable enough to love them? And would my way of expressing God’s love to someone else be understood in their context?

Paul got this, I think. He knew that people needed to know about God’s love for them, and he was willing to express it in any way they would understand and accept it, because he loved them like God did. He did everything short of sinning to win a couple of souls for Jesus. What an example for us all!

And if you’re still not convinced that we need to get out into the world, think about Jesus. By far the most of his recorded interactions with people happened outside of religious settings. He lived and breathed love in the world without the world influencing his resolve. He was totally sold out to loving people, no matter their context or background.

Oh, and he also became a person to save all people. If that’s not a lesson for us to get out into the world and meet the needy where they are, then I don’t know what is.

May we become aware of the Holy Spirit nudging us toward the people He loves, telling us: “These are our people. These are the people I want you to live for and bring to Christ.” And may we follow him faithfully and lovingly in it all.

A prayer: Lord Jesus, I am sorry if I have limited your love at work in this world by limiting my love for others. Help me do better. Fill me with love for my neighbour and help me express your love in a real and honest way. To the glory of your name alone. Amen.

Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash 

Nico Marais, 29/06/2022