To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I might share with them in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9: 22, 23

Most of us work hard for the status and the position that we enjoy in this life. The world does not tend to give out its honors easily or bestow rank and its privilege on people with some form of wildly uninhibited generosity; instead, we have to strive diligently and put out the effort and sacrifice much in order to achieve a higher place, and then the work continues in order to maintain it. Yet, Paul seems to be telling us that things are different in God’s kingdom. He is not suggesting that there is not hard work to be done or that people should not study, learn, develop skills, or even seek after advancement in our careers. Instead, Paul is saying that all of those earthly accomplishments and the position or status that may attach to them are of lesser importance when it comes to serving out God’s calling for us and when we are so brought into contact with people who need to know Christ. 

Paul was well educated and he held a position of rather great authority in the Jewish world where he lived. He also had an extraordinary story to tell when it came to his relationship with Jesus, for he had been selected by the Lord to encounter Him personally and in a highly intimate manner, and Paul had then received his theological retraining in a direct manner at the hands of Christ, Himself. Yet, Paul was able and willing to set all of that aside and to get down into the harsh chaos of this world with people if it meant that he could be in a place and a position where they would be able to hear the truth of the gospel of Christ. Paul did use his authority and training when those things granted him an audience and its attention, but he also engaged with people as nothing more than a sinful, fellow traveler in life’s journey who had been saved from that sin’s penalty by the grace of God and the blood of Christ.

When I consider what this means to me, I begin to think in terms of barriers and of the separation from people that rank, privilege, language, religious training, and bias bring about. The only status that matters when it comes to sharing the truth of Christ with others is that of being an unworthy sinner who has been granted an abundant life by Christ and through His efforts alone. Christ’s calling and commission for my life is simply that I would love others as much like He does as it is possible for me to do so. Then, He goes on to ask that I submit to Him even more fully by surrendering all of the barriers to that love that still exist in my heart and my mind. As Paul suggests to us, not all people will respond to the gospel by accepting Christ, but the response of others is not my concern. My Lord tells me that I am still to love all people regardless of whether they accept the gift of that love or not. My part in this process is to continue to seek the Lord’s wisdom in how to reach out to and engage with the people that life places in my path. I am to repent of any hardness of heart or fear that may be present within me so that Christ’s love is not inhibited from flowing out of me, and as a result of the Spirit’s work within me, I am to pour out Christ’s blessings upon all that I encounter.