The sermon this past Sunday was part of a continuing series about friendships. In particular, we learned about going forth into the world (see yesterday’s blog) to show love to all people…especially to unbelievers.
A chameleon changes its appearance to blend in with its surroundings. When we lived in Florida, I got a pretty up close and personal with lots of skin-color-changing critters! In his intense efforts to help people be saved, the early church leader Paul oftentimes changed the appearance of who he was so that others would be saved. Just as a chameleon with changed skin is still a chameleon, not a lion or a duck, Paul was still a fervent Christ-follower as he “became” like those to whom he was serving.
19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To 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. 21To 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. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Cor 9
I find it very interesting that the Greek word Paul used that we translate “I have become” is ginomai. Ginomai means become, but it also has another definition: “to come upon the stage.”
Hmmm, so Paul ACTS? I don’t think this term means that Paul is insincere in his attempts to win over people to Christ. Actors and actresses perform best when they are able to draw on their personal experiences to pour into the character they are portraying. They find some way to relate to their character and the ones around them. I think this…essence….is what Paul is talking about. As the New Living Translation words it, Paul “finds common ground” with whoever it is he that he is serving. He finds some way to relate to those he is serving.
But he is still himself. He does not abandon the faith as he rubs shoulders with the unfaithful. Like the chameleon, Paul may change his skin when he’s around spotted people, but he is still the same Paul on the inside.
Can I do the same? What are some things I could do that would get me around other people who I could win over for Christ? I will start by making a list of things I like to do, and then I’ll prayerfully look for new places to do them. For example, I love reading. I could join one of the numerous book clubs around town. Meeting with fellow readers is one way I could befriend those who may not know Christ.
Looking forward to hearing how you ginomai with unbelievers!