“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” -1 Corinthians 9:19-22
I’ve quoted this scripture many times to show how one size does not fit all when you share the Gospel. People are unique and Paul tells us that we need to relate to them so that we may bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ. I talk a great deal about this because so many have a standard line or technique that may work with some. Unfortunately, not only doesn’t it work well with others, it may actually drive them away from Christ and anyone who talks about Him. I know this from personal experience with my own family members who are mostly Atheist or Agnostic. However, the opposite way of sharing the faith is equally as destructive…to YOU!
If, in your desire to relate to others, you change the message instead of the way in which it is presented, or if you do or say things that goes against your Christian values and morals, it is YOU who is changed. So how far should a person go to relate to someone and when is that line crossed to become selling out?
The first Calvary Chapel was the first to open their doors to the Hippies of the day who dressed (and acted) in ways not accepted by most churches. Initially, this was thought to have gone too far. It was thought that the church had bent its rules and compromised its values to gain a larger audience. But it actually reached those who came to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus that would otherwise never have come to church to hear the Gospel.
In recent years, many new ministries have been created to reach a segment of people who would otherwise not come to know the Lord. Prison ministries reach inmates who would otherwise not have an opportunity to hear about Christ. These ministries are run by people who are former inmates or those who have had problems with the law in the past. These are the people who inmates can relate to. These are the people they will listen to.
Christian heavy metal bands are fairly new ministries that reach mostly young people who love the metal sound. These people wouldn’t listen to praise and worship music or be able to relate to those who sing this type of style of music.
So how far is too far when trying to reach the unsaved? The answer lies in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22. Here it is again, in the NIV translation:
“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.”
Though all things were made new in Christ and we are no longer under the law, we are under Christ’s law. We are expected to conduct ourselves according to His commandments though we have some leeway in how we share the message of salvation with others. If we are not using foul language or getting drunk or stealing or dressing provocatively (in other words violating God’s laws), we are free to share the message in a way that will help us relate to unbelievers and bring them to Jesus. The idea is to persuade unbelievers to accept Christ Jesus while not compromising our beliefs and morals. When we go too far by becoming worldly, we can persuade ourselves that we don’t need Jesus.
Sharing the faith by handing out a tract or prepared line may be easier, but it isn’t as effective. Having a one-on-one conversation with a unique individual where we relate to their individual needs requires more communication skill, but it’s well worth the time and effort. Let’s just make sure that we aren’t compromising our beliefs becoming worldly in order to reach them or we might end up losing ourselves in the process.
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