I love diversity. I love being able to talk to my elderly neighbor who lives next to me, to Tyler, the 5th grade kid I go to lunch with on Fridays, to my middle-aged parents, and to my friends that are the same age as me and are going through the same things I’m going through. I enjoy talking about the weather, about US history, about baseball, about geography. I love talking to whites, blacks, Hispanics, orientals, islanders. I love talking to people from the South and occasionally I even like talking with friends from the North (alright, joking). Life is so beautiful, the fact that there are people out there whom I have similarities and differences with and who I can learn from and in turn teach. Some people I have everything in common with, while others I have nothing in common with, and that’s OK with me.
Paul in Scripture dealt with similarities and differences too. He was a Jew, who studied in Jerusalem and ended up becoming a Pharisee. Before his conversion in Acts 9, his name was Saul, a persecutor of Christians. He killed Christians and even was involved in the murder of Stephen, the first recorded martyr of the early church as noted in Acts 7. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, he becomes a key figure, even writing two-thirds of the entire New Testament through his missionary journeys. Visiting different churches like Ephesus, Philippi, Galatia, and Colosse, with different problems within the church such as the roles of grace, suffering, the body (as in congregation) of Christ, while traveling or writing to different companions like Peter, James, Timothy, Silvanus, and more.
Paul tackles the topic of diversity, when in 1 Corinthians 9:20-23, he writes, “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; 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. 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. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker in it.”
Paul’s mission is the gospel. Even though he has suffered for the gospel and is currently suffering for the gospel, he notes how he does all things “for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” Paul has the right to say he is currently a partaker in the gospel, but bears with the Corinthians in saying he wants to be a fellow partaker of it alongside them. To the Jews, Paul became Jewish. To those under the law, he became under the law while not himself being under the law (I take this as meaning Paul spent time and invested his life with those under the law without him abandoning his Christian beliefs). Being made uniquely in the image of God, we have things in common with others that make it easier to speak to them and to relate to them. This is a true statement, but Paul takes it a step further in being to those that are both under the law and without the law. He becomes something he is not to two different groups of people-Paul is neither under the law nor without the law. Think of Paul had to adapt his ways in order to “by all means save some” (v. 22).
Think of how you can become something different to someone in order to share the gospel with them. We all have those people we just click with more because we have things in common with them, and those who it’s a struggle to get through a conversation with. Become something you aren’t-without compromising your Christian beliefs-to somebody in order to share the gospel with them.
Psalm 139:17-18 “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.”