It all started with a question my pastor asked me, well, he asked our congregation, but it pierced my heart. Are you living in such a way as to win others to the Kingdom of God?
In 1 Corinthians, Paul gives a message that challenges not just elders and ministers; it challenges every Christian. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, 10:31-33 and 11:1 all illustrate how Paul sought to imitate Christ and, by doing so, save many.
“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.”
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
Paul states multiple times in these passages that his aim is to win people for the Kingdom of God. My objective as a Christian education leader is to serve, live, and love like Jesus to win my students for Christ. Motivated by love, I must learn to express my deep care and concern for every person that God places in my path.
Often the scriptures above are misunderstood. Paul is not saying that he is a chameleon, nor is he saying that he does the saving. He understands he is to love and share the message of the Gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to do the work. His message of the gospel does not change; however, he understands as Jesus did, that every person may need you to explain and minister to them differently. Jesus told parables; he was direct, showed compassion, challenged people, healed people, performed miracles, and ministered in a variety of different ways as he understood people’s needs.
As Christians, we are to see every person as one created in God’s image, unique in personality, divinely gifted, and worthy of love and respect. Approaching people with this posture of imitating Christ will open the door to communication and ultimately help plant seeds that the Holy Spirit can bring to maturity.
How do I live a life that imitates Christ? Some might say that the best offense is a strong defense, but we must be on the offense in this game of saving souls. Christ was not passive; he came down from heaven to initiate a relationship with us. We must love in action and by our words, seek out, overcome struggles, fellowship, dine, and converse with all types of people to teach them about Christ’s saving grace.
There is only one way to conquer the struggles plaguing humanity, and it is Holy love. Paul writes about this Holy love in Romans and Galatians.
Romans 13:8-10, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other commands there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Galatians 5:13-14, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In these verses, Paul is restating what Jesus had said, taught, and lived out. Paul is imploring us, saying, “Do it like me: live, talk, love, and forgive like me as I follow Christ.” Suppose we as Christ-followers would be so courageous as to commit to a life that looks like Christ’s. Oh, what a world this would be. Would you join me and go on the offense to win and save souls? Would you invite others to imitate you as you imitate Christ?
Keeping 1 Corinthians 9:23 at the forefront of our mind, “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” May we all rejoice for eternity that we as a Christian education community lived a life that won many for the Kingdom.
I want to give my pastor, Craig Bowler, at Sanctuary in Him Church credit for his sermon, which sparked these thoughts. www.sanctuaryinhim.org[Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published on the Mount Paran Christian School blog.]