19 I am not anyone’s slave. But I have become a slave to everyone, so that I can win as many people as possible. 20 When I am with the Jews, I live like a Jew to win Jews. They are ruled by the Law of Moses, and I am not. But I live by the Law to win them. 21 And when I am with people who are not ruled by the Law, I forget about the Law to win them. Of course, I never really forget about the law of God. In fact, I am ruled by the law of Christ. 22 When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. 23 I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings.
What will it take? What will it take to win the world for Jesus Christ? What will it take to win your neighbor? What will it take to win your relative, co-worker, or friend? It will take becoming a slave. That is, winning others to see the glorious and incredible good news of forgiveness and new life in Jesus takes giving up our rights and our freedoms in order to have a ministry of presence. We have to be around other people in order to win them. That’s why winning the party-crowd takes going to the bar. It’s why winning young moms takes sitting with them at the park while the kids play. It is why it takes being present among people in the community in order to reach them, instead of wishing that people will magically show up at church in order to experience our friendliness.
The turn of thought that we need is this: Other people do not need to show up on our turf and become like us. Instead, we need to show up on their turf and become like them. If it weren’t in the Bible we would think it blasphemous to say such a thing. But there it is, and we must wrestle with its implications for our lives. So, what needs to change?
Merciful God, you want to cut me into the action of what you are doing in the world. Help me live wisely among those who don’t yet know you, so that they can see the light of Christ in me, hear the words of Christ from me, and experience the salvation of Christ. Amen.