September 7, 2020
Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 MSG
Do you remember your school days when you desperately wanted to be in the “in-crowd”? For most of us it started quite young. We desperately wanted to be part of what was happening. We wanted to know we were part of something significant and were loved and valued by others. It doesn’t change as we get older. Everyone you know, even the hardest, crustiest person, has had those feelings, even though they may have been buried at this point by an avalanche of rejection, neglect, or busyness.
Sometimes we as Christians develop a fear of engaging with people who are not yet following Jesus or not following in the style we have been taught. We are afraid they will influence us negatively, and so we forget that the reason we’re alive is not to hide from the world but to engage it for His sake.
Paul didn’t lose sight of that. Acts tells us that he was changed from a badly misinformed persecutor to a person with the capacity to be the leader of the early church because Gamaliel (Acts 22) took him in and trained him, and in Romans 16 he acknowledges his indebtedness to the husband and wife team of Aquilla and Priscilla. Even though when he came to Christ, Paul had a rough reputation, they invested in him. They showed him how to influence without taking on an ungodly way of life. He then prioritized that himself. He entered into the worlds of people who needed Jesus and tried to learn their point of view. Think of his own testimony: “I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.” Why? He didn’t want to just talk about the good news—he wanted to be in the in-group—with the people who actually waded into the lives of those without Christ and showed them the love of Jesus.
The way into the “in-group” of Jesus is the same now as then. Commit to actively serving others in every way you can so they can experience the love of Jesus and the eternal life He offers. It’s the most significant and lasting thing you will ever do.
- Pray: God, I don’t want to be a lukewarm follower who only talks about my faith and doesn’t actively serve others in order to have an eternal influence. I want to participate in the fulfillment of Your mission. I commit to do that, starting now. Amen.