I’ve been thinking that as I grow older, I seem to be evolving into a multi-complex person – the serious side, the funny side, the seemingly extrovert who’s really an introvert, someone who’s playing “Knock, knock, who’s there” with myself.. as I live in this complicated world.
And we are familiar with the FB culture that it is the natural thing to do – that we choose the best profile pic we can find, we post the pleasant inspiring thoughts we have, we share the happy events and smiling faces of our friends and loved ones. Yet behind all these ‘faces’ we show the world, there is a side of us, that we keep to ourselves, that our family members know, that only our helpers at home see. And even some blind spots of ourselves that only God sees.
One thing I know is that the Holy Spirit is my guide and teacher, constantly moulding and transforming me into the person that God wants me to be.
As I look back, it’s been a long way I’ve come – from the child who would go hide in the bedroom whenever visitors came to our home. My mom would say: Oh, please excuse her, she’s shy.
I also remember one comment in my report card where the teacher put: No initiative. And how about the ‘snobbish’ image of an awkward adolescent, feeling sad and bad or even jealous of her more popular friends? Yet, these friends were my security blanket. I was contented that I was their shadow or in their shadow. It’s good to be a follower to their programs and ideas. And in our ‘barkada’ (gang of friends), I felt secure and accepted.
Indeed, God has a way of working all things for my good. One by one, members of this barkada left… migrated to faraway places. But God led me to a group of ‘older’ church friends who are my models and mentors to this day. And God led me to hubby to continuously hammer and put me through fire so that I can be shaped into a better person.
Not that I have arrived and become the best that I can be, I am a work-in-progress. Sometimes I go forward and many times I go backward, I slip and fall. Yet God always puts me back on my feet. It was painful but God’s grace is sufficient always.
From this evolving person, I am learning and discovering what Paul meant when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.
20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;
21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
Being a slave to all means giving more importance to another person than to my own desires. It means not to be judgmental but to be compassionately understanding.
This giving up of my freedom entails that I put myself in the shoes of the person I want to influence for Christ. I listen without judgment.
Let me give an example. I have a buddhist friend. I often eat vegan meals with her. She loves cooking but she is often alone in the house. She likes to invite me to dine with her. I eat vegan meals with her even though I am not a buddhist. I might not necessarily agree with her beliefs, thoughts and opinions. Yet I respect and accept her for who she is. I pray that one day, she will come to know the Lord through my friendship with her.
I guess the idea is that being a Christian is not putting on a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. While I need to stand firm on what is right and wrong according to my Christian faith, I should not make others feel that I am superior to them.
To the weak, I became weak… this is walking alongside people so that we are equal. I am not above them nor are they above me.
Bottomline – “I do all things for the sake of the gospel” (v.23) is about doing all things for Jesus. This is friendship evangelism – telling people the good news of Jesus by being a true/authentic friend to them… the friend who is one but also a friend who is all – including the many faces of me… but always striving for the beauty of Jesus to be seen in me.