By Rick Cowman
Who are we reaching for Jesus Christ? Are the people around us getting a clear message of the gospel from their contact with us? Do our lives show them they matter to God? Some tough questions, huh? As we consider these, listen to the apostle Paul’s plan for reaching people with the Good News as he writes in 1 Corinthians 9, verse 22: “I have become all things to all (people) that by all possible means I save some (NIV)!” So what’s the plan to reach our world for Christ?
First, Paul says, “I HAVE BECOME…” If people are going to be reached for Christ, we must begin a process of rethinking and reevaluating our influence in this world! We must be willing to change the way we live our lives and the way we “do church” to get the Good News of the Gospel to the hurting, lost people around us. Someone once said, “We (believers) may be the only Bible some people will ever read!” We know the Scriptures tell us we are “an epistle read of all men.” That being true, it really does matter what people read from our lives and our churches! So, what are YOU becoming?
Paul continues, “I have become ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE…!” It will take compassion, creativity and commitment to become relevant to the unchurched in the years ahead of us. We must be determined to bring the gospel to our community in a way that people can relate to it and understand it. We must meet people where they are in life, and accept them where they are. Many people in our culture today have been offended and turned off by organized religion, and feel they have no need for it. And they’re right! No one has a need for religion, but everyone has a need for a personal relationship with the Living God through Jesus Christ! The ritualism, churchy talk, and sometimes “holier than thou” attitude in our churches has kept lost people from hearing the gospel. What is it that speaks the loudest to lost people, in fact, to anyone? The reality of Jesus Christ in a life! But that message is too often drowned out the other stuff.
The unchurched people in our community are saying, “Show me something real! Show me the difference Jesus makes in your life!” They would say to us, “Show me how much you care, before you tell me how much you know!” How do we show Jesus to others? Paul nails it in Romans 2, verse 4: “It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance!” I believer Paul is advocating a conspiracy of kindness in the church of Jesus Christ! If people are going to be reached with the truth of God’s love, we must begin to show them what He’s like through “ALL POSSIBLE MEANS!” That means we need to be looking for ways to demonstrate God’s love to those around us, intentionally! “All possible means” means we need to change the way we “do church!” And we don’t change to make the Gospel relevant. The Gospel is relevant. We simply need to look for ways to SHOW its relevance!
Finally, notice Paul’s last words from our text: “THAT...I MAY SAVE SOME!” God has not called any one church to reach everyone! Did you hear that? That’s why He has placed such diversity of churches in this area. It takes different kinds of churches to reach different kinds of people! This diversity is there so that each church will reach the people He fitted and gifted them to reach, in their own unique way! By God’s design, each church has a unique personality which will reach different people. The key to effectiveness is NOT trying to duplicate what some other church in town is doing, but to figure out who it is WE have been called to reach and the most effective way to reach them!
There is no greater miracle than the miracle of a life changed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ! May each of us be challenged to allow God’s Spirit to teach us to become people and churches God can use to influence our world for the Kingdom of God. Then, let’s watch Him work!