Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Reaching out to Those Without Christ

19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.  20 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; 21 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.  22 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.  23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.  –I Corinthians 9:19-23 (KJV)

The other day I was visiting an elderly couple from our church, one of whom has become a shut-in due to illness.  When I arrived, another family member was there visiting.  The man who lives there introduced me as their pastor, but he also paid me a high compliment.  He said, “This is Brother Dan, he’s just a friendly hillbilly like us.”  I laughed and said that I indeed came from a long line of fine hillbillies from eastern Kentucky.  I later reflected on this and chuckled at the thought of being described in such a fashion.  To say that I am a hillbilly, and to anyone from the mountains or the country this was given as a compliment and not a slight, is not truly accurate.  The description implies a man of the country or the mountains, a man of the soil, and a man familiar with farm life.  Truth be told, I am about as far removed from such a portrayal as an Antarctic penguin is from Miami Beach. 

I grew up in the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio, a fairly large city.  From there I lived in Cincinnati, and then in Louisville, Kentucky before finally settling in southwest Virginia.  I know precious little about farm life except that I enjoy visiting them.  I wouldn’t know what to do with livestock other than get out of the way lest I be injured.  I believe what my friend was implying was that he could relate to me.  This is vital in our witness for Christ.  This relating, if I may call it that, means we are able to reach out to a broad range of people with the gospel of Christ.  It does not mean for a moment that we become sinners in order to reach sinners, but we are willing to see from another’s point of view as we share with them the message of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Paul the Apostle reached out to Jews, gentiles, Romans, slaves, kings, and anyone else with whom he could share the gospel.  He sought to identify with people on a personal level.  There will be people I may have trouble reaching, but you may be able to reach.  I think of the brother in Christ who used to ride with biker gangs, but now as a believer he shares Christ with them.  I recall the man I met who spent many years in prison, and once paroled began a prison ministry to reach those behind bars with the gospel.  This is what the Bible means about becoming “all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

Whoever you are, you have been uniquely gifted to reach people for Jesus Christ.  Do not be afraid to shine His light to those around you who need the hope Christ offers.  You are I are vital to the sharing of the gospel.  Be of good cheer, as the Bible says, and walk forward in divine purpose today.

God bless you.