Recently, my devotions had me reading I Corinthians 9, where Paul says he has made himself a servant to all, becoming all things to all people so that by all means he might save some. That got me to thinking...which can be dangerous!
Christ died to set me free – from the wrath of God and the loveless limits of the law. Free to love and for eternal life. Am I using my freedom to make that good news plain, by being a servant of all? What does that look like?
In freedom, for love’s sake, maybe I can try to overcome unnecessary, alienating differences that cut me off from others. Perhaps I learn another language and translate for the sake of others. Or, eat a meal with someone else in the same food they eat, even if it’s not my preference. Maybe I get to know and discuss the politics, sports, business and even religious view of others.
This affects my work at CIF. We work with churches and ministries of all sizes. Some are urban, some suburban and some rural. Some are multicultural or of a different culture than my own, and some are almost as pasty-white Scandinavian as I am! Some are sophisticated in matters of finance, buildings, investments, construction projects, etc. Some are novices in these areas. Some folks are open to counsel, guidance and input – but others want to go at it on their own, doing things as they see best. Some are healthy while others are not, and at times, some are in crisis.
And if I think about it, the idea of being a servant of all impacts everything else in life, too – my family, co-workers, neighborhood, church, community and so on.
If I follow Paul’s lead, I am to be a servant of them all. For me, that’s easiest working with individuals and churches that are like me. It’s those who are wired differently – those that don’t see things like I do, think like I do or make decisions I would make – that are challenging for me. In these cases – where I see the world differently from others God has me interacting with – there are a few of things that help me:
- No amount of self-effort on my part will make that happen effectively. Only the Holy Spirit that has the power to change the other person, the circumstances, or even me. Forcing my way to achieving the change I want is, in most cases, not the right outcome.
- I need to remember to try to see things from the other person’s perspective. There’s a familiar old saying about not judging a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins. I think that’s true, and often if I can see and understand the other person’s perspective, ways to resolve our differences become obvious.
- I can depend on God’s guidance. He just wants me to live a healthy life that is connected in relationship and proximity to others, and to depend on him to lead and guide.
So, my first reaction to being a servant of all is “Come on! Do you know how big a thing you are asking, God?” And then he reminds me that yes, he does know how big a thing He is asking. But He only wants me to do my part – and then trust in Him for the rest. Now that is something I think I can do.