Our Epistle this week is 1 Corinthians 9:16-23.
For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel. 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.
Paul explains that his mission is “to win as many as possible” by sharing the Gospel in a variety of different places. In order to connect with these varied cultures, Paul says he becomes “like” them. This doesn’t mean he adopts sinful ways, but in order to reach them, Paul follows Jesus’ example by going to them in love.
Jesus was often criticized for His association with “sinners”, those ignored or marginalized by religious society of that time. Jesus didn’t deny their wrongdoing but taught that we must include all God’s children in our effort to share the Good News. He came specifically to save the last, the least and the lost – which includes all of us.
We are called to be in ministry with all people, no matter their background or situation, becoming enough like them as Paul says, to enable us to connect with them. God has gifted us to be able to reach people in different ways. It is up to us to obey Christ’s commission to make disciples of all the world.
Loving Lord, we are blessed to serve You and work to bring all people into Your kingdom. Show us how to love each other as You first loved us. Amen.