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  • Bruce Black

Mission Mindset

“19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. 22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

“19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. 22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23


Jeanette and I were at lunch recently with a married couple who may be the most mission committed “regular” Christians we know. An example of their mission mindset is that they were leaving the day after our lunch together to travel to eastern Europe! Their purpose was to reconnect with Christians and other friends to continue their relationships and conversations about Jesus.


As lunch started the husband, who knew Jeanette was raised by a Japanese mother asked, “Jeanette what was it like to be raised in an Asian family? We are super interested in learning about your experience and about Asian culture.”


Jeanette shared her experience and perspective of being an Asian American as a child, teen, and adult. As Jeanette spoke both spouses gave her their undivided attention.


Then they gave more detail about their interest…


“Thanks for sharing that. You see, we have several Asian Americans who have moved into our neighborhood. We want to gain as much information and as much of a sense of their lives as we begin to build friendships with them.”


Their mindset made me think of the passage above!


The Apostle Paul is truly the grandfather of all Christian missionaries. He traveled throughout the ancient world, connecting with thousands of people from dozens of cultures. In the passage from 1 Corinthians 9 shared above, Paul embodies the mindset that was the heart of his mission efforts.


What he says has served as a model for missionaries for centuries.

Paul says two things:


First, I consider myself a slave to all other cultures. My desire is not to have them bend to my cultural norms, but to adapt to theirs. I use my freedom in Christ to diminish my ethnic heritage and I gladly yield their preferences.


Why did Paul think and act like that? He shares his reasons:


“I obey the law of Christ” (Verse 21) which makes him a slave to all other people (Verse 19).


Look at the “law of Christ” in Philippians 2:5-7 (NLT)


“5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”


Jesus made the ultimate cultural surrender: He left heaven behind to come to earth and become like us. He did not come into our “culture” and demand His way. He took on our ways. So did Paul. So do all effective missionaries.


Second, Paul says, he became a slave to others so that he could do “everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” (Verse 23)


Paul did not live to make everyone like him, he lived so everyone could come to live their fullest life only found in Jesus.


Let me wrap this up with this thought. Paul’s approach to life is not simply for global missionaries. It is for us “regular” Christians, too. All of us “regular” Christians are under “Christ’s law” and are to consider ourselves slaves (servants) to others.


How different would our marriages, families, friendships, communities, churches, and culture be if “regular” Christians (like you and me) asked,


“How can I become like people who are different from me so that I can be more effective in sharing with them the blessings of Jesus?


What can I learn about others’ worldview to have a more meaningful relationship with them?”


Ask these questions in conversations with your spouse, your kids, your men’s group, your women’s class, your small group, and your best friend. Ask these questions to the person sitting across from you at lunch, because you want to learn how you can connect in a more meaningful way with your new Asian-American neighbors.


God’s guidance and grace,


Bruce


PS To learn more ways to become more mission-minded and mission-acting check out the resource section of our website https://www.flowlivingwater.org/resources-and-gifts


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