BLOG’S TEXT–1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (AMP):
 “For although I am free in every way from anyone’s control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more [for Christ].  To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to men under the Law, [I became] as one under the Law, though not myself being under the Law, that I might win those under the Law.  To those without (outside) law I became as one without the law of God and lawless toward Him, but that I am [especially keeping] within and committed to the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.  To the weak (wanting in discernment) I have become weak (wanting in discernment) that I might win the weak and over-scrupulous. I have [in sort] become all things to all men,in a that I might by all means (at all costs and by any and every way) save some [by winning them to faith in Jesus Christ].  And I do this for the sake of the good news (the Gospel), in order that I may become a participator in it and share in its [blessings along with you].”
THINKING BEFORE YOU TAKE A RISK IN THE “WHAT If’s” OF SOCIETY:
Spectator Sports are a big part of people’s lives everywhere. Whether it be Soccer, Cricket, Tennis, Golf or in the Pacific Northwest this past week–Playoff Professional Football–the Seattle Seahawks. Personally, I’m more of a baseball fan, but with Seattle’s lack of success in that area…maybe more of a Football enthusiast of late. And you are right, just a “fair-weather” sports fan.
My purpose for writing this blog is NOT to “throw rocks” at churches in communities for doing things out of the ‘ordinary’ ; in being transparent ‘real people’ for Christ. For the apostle Paul did so on many occasions. My only purpose is to remind church leaders to READ THE CAUTION SIGNS; to THINK first before taking a risk of going against the gospel truth–stepping out on the ice regardless of what the results may be.
A few definitions of the meaning– On Taking Risks:
(“Exposure to) the possibility of loss, or other adverse or unwelcome circumstance; a chance or situation involving such a possibility”~ Old English Dictionary.
And… “RISK can be seen as relating to the PROBABILITY OF UNCERTAIN FUTURE EVENTS.”
I ran across a few comments in The Seattle Times, a Seattle based newspaper on how churches would respond on a Sunday morning; when a local sports team was playing the ‘BIG GAME’ at 10 AM PST –[the set-aside time for Worship and Praise for many churches–and not the a pastor’s Message on a stage].
Let me give you just a few of their comments before I proceed with a ‘”Word detective” investigation; on THINKING FIRST before you speak or act in the community of non-believers and… the believing “sheep” of the church.
Seattle area pastors response after holding earlier services on Sunday– that will finish before kickoff and followed by a football watch party:
LOCAL PASTOR: “…and we will get crap from other churches.”
Just a few miles from Notre Dame University, the lead Pastor at a local community church noticed that attendance at Saturday services dropped dramatically whenever Notre Dame was playing. So this season he invited people to watch the games at church on a big-screen TV and attend worship services just before or after the games. The pastor quotes Scripture, noting that the apostle Paul became “all things to all people” to connect with as wide an audience as possible. “You adjust your ministry to reach out to people in the most effective way in their culture,” he said. Is his THINKING incorrect? That depends and I will investigate in God’s Word regarding actions taken in the ministry of the local church. Then you can decide.
Now you might be wondering where I’m going with all of this and what does it all have to do with 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, and that is a good question. For quoting Scripture without putting it in CONTEXT might be seen as relating to the PROBABILITY of uncertain future…taking risks in the outcome.
If I saw a sign with the word “CAUTION”, I would be sure to read it in context–thinking first before ignoring the “why’s” and “the what for’s”; before ignoring the warnings.
Before returning to the Bible verses in 1 Corinthians, turn to The Gospel of Matthew to see how Jesus prioritized in a lesson taught:
 “When they arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the half shekel [the temple tax] went up to Peter and said, Does not your Teacher pay the half shekel?  He answered, Yes. And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him [about it] first, saying, What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly rulers collect duties or tribute–from their own sons or from others not of their own family?  And when Peter said, From other people not of their own family, Jesus said to him, Then the sons are exempt.  However, in order not to give offense and cause them to stumble [that is, to cause them to judge unfavorably and unjustly] go down to the sea and throw in a hook. Take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find there a shekel. Take it and give it to them to pay the temple tax for Me and for yourself” (Matthew 17:24-27 AMP).
Now Jesus certainly wasn’t libel to pay any tribute, but a lesson needed to be understood by His disciples. I love the word, “HOWEVER ” in Scripture. It tells us that ‘in spite of what was just said…’ there is more to come. And JESUS continues the conversation…in order not to give offense and cause them to stumble…” (verse 27).
So the FREEDOM that comes with Christianity also comes with cautions/warnings. And thinking about the cautions before taking a risk in an outreach ministry, can sometimes put you in a place of inaction in the community of believers. Everyone, and I mean everyone is watching!
It’s Like Walking On A Razor’s Edge–
1 Corinthians 9:19, 22:
“I’ve made myself slave to all” (verse 19) AND “I have become all things to all men” (verse 22).
CAUTION: You are on the brink of idolatry, compromise and worldliness to sin–you are walking the razor’s edge between fruitless separation and unprincipled expediency.
If you fall one way, you are no use–no connection with the world; fall the other way, you are no use because you are just like the world.
How then does a person keep their FAITH and their FREEDOM and their RADICAL ZEAL to win people to Christ and not just copy people? The answer is, thinking hard about your relations to the Law of God–the way Paul did.
Long ago, Dr. Francis Schaeffer, the philosopher prophet of the twentieth century, warned us that America had become a part of “the post-Christian culture. Today we have almost been silenced by anti-Christian forces claiming that we are trying to impose moral values on this rampant decadence. The truth is that they have tried to impose their immoral values on us. They are generally doing a better job of corrupting society than we are of cleansing it. May God help us to become the restraining influence we should be on a corrupt world. From Tim La Haye and Jerry B. Jenkins’ A 90-Day Devotional PERHAPS Living Every Day In The Light Of Christ’s Return TODAY-page 60.
If the church spent as much time and effort on preparing to WORSHIP and PRAISE on Saturdays and Sundays–regardless of the clock–, as the world prepares to celebrate and give glory to football teams, then the churches in America would be filled to capacity–without gimmicks, or new programs. Ask yourself the question: How are we prioritizing in ministry to reach the city for Christ?
I once invited a co-worker to attend a morning church service with my family. His response was somewhat shocking to me at first because I wasn’t thinking that I would get the following response:
I’ve been there done that before. Get up on my day-off and go to church and noticed that the people in church were not any different in their actions than the people I hang out with at the local PUB on Saturday nights. So why bother to get up on Sunday? I’ll just have my own church at home. Thanks for the invite, but I’ll pass.” OUCH!
“My priority is to win unsaved people in the community and bring them to Christ–at any cost!”
A noble statement, but is it the real reason of your actions, are you thinking of the outcomes before you become an ambassador of Christ? Is your FAITH in the outcome of your ‘doing’ activated by LOVE (Galatians 5:6) or is SELF the activator?
The ‘Frank Sinatra Syndrome’:
A lawyer asked Jesus a question to test Him: Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principle kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light–which are heavy?] And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great (most important, principle) and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. (Matthew 22:36-39).
What Human Needs Are–
Unless our entire body, soul, and spirit are totally in love with Jesus–we will be ineffective in loving ourselves. And if you can’t love yourself then how can you be effective in your city, your church, etc.?
The psychologist Abraham Maslow has given us a theorist list of human needs, essentials in society:
1. Safety/Security–the need for structure, predictability, stability and freedom from fear and anxiety.
2. Belongingness/LOVE–the need to be accepted by others and to have strong personal ties with one’s family, friends, and identifying groups.
3. Self-esteem–the need to be recognized by oneself and others. Also includes the need to know that one has some effect on her/his environment.
4. Personal fulfillment–the need to reach one’s potential in all areas of life.
5. Identity–goes beyond a psychological “sense of self'”. Theorists define identity as a sense of self in relation to the outside world.
6. Cultural security–is related to identity; the need for recognition: one’s language, traditions, religion, cultural values, ideas, and concepts.
7. FREEDOM/Liberty–is the condition of having no physical, political, or civil restraints; having the capacity to exercise choice in all aspects of one’s life.
8. Participation–is the need to be able to actively partake in and influence society.
Now are these “HUMAN NEEDS” inclusive in TAKING RISKS? Maybe. When I first investigated this area of basic human needs, something jump off the viewpoints of the theorists: SELF–“I have a need to be LOVED, to have IDENTITY, SELF-ESTEEM, ETC.” I like to call it The ‘Frank Sinatra Syndrome’--I want to do it “my way”. That only edifies your/my SELF IMPORTANCE and not the LOVE OF JESUS.
“CAREFUL THINKING [IN LIBERTY/FREEDOM] BEFORE TAKING RISKS”:
Galatians 5:13 AMP:
“For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom (liberty); only [do not let your] FREEDOM [LIBERTY] be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.” (I added the word “liberty” to the AMP).
What then is our Liberty, our freedoms in our cities as Christians?
1. Liberty is constrained by our love of Jesus–if you do not LOVE Christ, forget all the rest of the principles and do it your way.
2. Liberty/Freedom SHOULD NOT cause another person to stumble, be made weak, or turn from Christ–This is a MAJOR POINT! It’s the only one that says that a person sins against Christ. And “that person” can be a “non-believer” or a “believer” in Christ.
3. Liberty should be edifying–does your liberty build up the body of Christ?
4. Liberty should not be enslaving.
5. Liberty should always glorify Jesus–does your freedom truly bring glory to Jesus?
6. Liberty should help you toward your goal Goad has set.
7. Liberty should be worthy of the TRUTH–the Gospel–does your liberty hinder the gospel of Christ?
Are you a C.I.N.O.? (Christians in name only):
The principles I have laid down for you [‘recognizer of God’s truth’ contained in the Gospel message] and are but CAUTION SIGNS to make you think first before stepping out on the slippery ice and taking a risk of falling through. There’s no such thing a “part-time Christians’ recorded in the Bible.
God’s Word confirms this principle, when the apostle Paul tells the believers in the city of Corinth:
“For the LOVE of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died; And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 AMP).
One important characteristic for all of us who profess our belief in Christ Jesus and so necessary for church leaders is self-sacrifice: giving up our rights for the benefits of others and for the glory of God.
Why? Because a leaders life is so determinative, influential in the cities and on other people. And you know if Christ Jesus and His Word are being emphasized– and it’s not all about you, then wearing a button on your shirt won’t be necessary. The city will know who you represent. Careful thinking first and LIVE LIKE JESUS–SHARE HIS LOVE!