“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant of all, that I might win more of them. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” –1 Corinthians 9:19,22b
There’s a certain poetry in living our lives being “true to myself.” After all, who wants to be fake, right? When people look at us we want them to see the real person, and not someone just trying to get you to like them.
In nearly five decades of life I’ve walked both paths. I distinctly remember, as a child, wanting desperately to fit in, but never really finding the acceptance I craved. Then, as a young adult, I decided that I really didn’t want acceptance if it entailed being someone that I was not. Both of these paths revolved around one person. Me. This kind of thinking is always selfish.
Paul had every right to “look out for number one.” After all, he had worked and studied hard to become a Pharisee. But once he met Jesus everything changed. No longer was he about Paul; now he was all about Jesus. And he wasn’t selfish about this relationship with Him either. They were friends, but rather than keep Him to himself, Paul introduced Him to everyone he met!
When Paul says, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some”, he wasn’t talking about changing his core being so people would think that he was someone whom he was not. Rather, he found within his core being a point of identification with everyone he encountered so that he could love them to Christ.
In order to do this, Paul had to get to know people. Spend time with them. It’s so much easier to go through life thinking only of yourself, but the Gift we have in Jesus is to be shared, not monopolized. I’m not a great “people person”, so it’s a challenge to get to know people. But if I, if we, ever hope to see the great commission fulfilled, it has to be done. Find something within everyone you meet to which you can relate. Empathize. Share Jesus. “Become all things to all people, that by all means” you “might save some”.