Whatever It Takes

ImageMore of the same will not bring change. It never does. More of the same brings more of the same.

But … what if the church adopted a whatever it takes attitude toward fulfilling the Great Commission? What if the church embraced a whatever it takes attitude toward growing new believers into mature disciples? What if the church bought into a whatever it takes attitude toward building bridges of hope across economic, racial, and social lines?

I’m talking a willingness to see what is around us, to sense the heart of God, and to step forward and declare, “Here am I; send me!” It’s costly. It’s difficult. It’s more than saying the right things; it’s a long-term commitment to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples… And who knows? We might just change the world.

Consider these words from the Apostle Paul:

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To 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. 21 To 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. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

Let me tell you a little about the guy who penned those words. He started out as a man named Saul, a Jew, a Pharisee, a zealous persecutor of the church. Here are Paul’s own words about his life before meeting Jesus on the Road to Damascus:

Then Paul said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs.

I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today. And I persecuted the followers of the Way, hounding some to death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prison. The high priest and the whole council of elders can testify that this is so. For I received letters from them to our Jewish brothers in Damascus, authorizing me to bring the Christians from there to Jerusalem, in chains, to be punished. (Acts 22:3-5)

Once Saul believed in Jesus, he took the same passion and zeal he had used to persecute the church and put it toward growing and nourishing the very same church. He was sold out to follow the call of God. If people were lost, Paul was intent on sharing Jesus with them.

Paul had been wrapped in a performance-based religion. If I do this, God will love me. If I don’t do that, then God will not love me. He was constantly trying to win God’s approval by religious effort. He came to understand, however, that His standing before God was not based on his self-effort, but upon what was already done for Him by Jesus on the cross. Salvation was not by works, but by God’s grace!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

He was set free in Jesus. He no longer had to strive to win God’s favor or earn his salvation. He was saved in Jesus and certain of it. He could have chosen to rejoice in his own good standing and ignore the needs of the world around him. He did not.

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

Paul was free. That freedom came from being in Christ. And he was determined to free as many as possible with Him … to win them to faith in Jesus.

Paul did not have to do this. He could have kept his newfound faith to himself. He could have enjoyed his new relationship with the Lord in some distant corner of the Roman Empire. He could have lived out his remaining days on earth in prayer, Bible study, and relative peace, but he didn’t. Once he tasted freedom in Christ, Paul was compelled to offer that freedom to all who would receive it – no matter the cost – and no matter what it took to do it

20 To 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. 21 To 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. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.

Now, don’t miss this. The reason that Paul was willing to go to such extremes to meet people where they were is because he didn’t want to leave them there!

His aim was to “win others.” He says it five times in these few verses. But what clarified a “win” for Paul. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

That’s the win – to save some. Paul’s life was wrapped up in that one mission – to proclaim the Gospel so that SOME might be saved. Many would reject the truth, but some would not. He was willing to do whatever it took to reach the some.

There are over 7 billion people in the world. There are nearly 10 million people in Georgia. There are over 14,000 people in Greene County. No matter how zealous we are, how creative we are, or how passionate we are, we will not win them all. But if we are committed to doing whatever it takes to reach them, some will be saved. Some will come to faith in Jesus. Some will begin to live for Him and join us in making disciples of some more.

But wait! Paul was special. He was unique. He was a Roman citizen and was had rights that most Jews did not. He was a Pharisee and had an education that most people didn’t. He knew the Scriptures inside and out. He could communicate clearly with common people and debate the intellectuals. He was not married so he didn’t have the responsibilities of family. Paul was ideally suited for the mission of reaching all kinds of people. You probably do not feel that YOU are.

But that is the beauty of God’s great plan called the church. You don’t have to be all things to all people. Together WE can be!

Look what God has done here at Grace Fellowship! Look at the diversity represented here. Each of us is uniquely gifted by God to influence the people within your sphere. Leverage your experiences. Leverage your social status. Leverage your geography. Leverage our friendships. Leverage your work life. Leverage your retirement. Leverage your skin color. Leverage your hobbies. You are uniquely positioned by God to do what another person might not be able to do. Use it to the fullest!

And together, as a local expression of the body of Christ, we have a combination of gifts and talents and skills and experiences to fully engage our community for Christ. We have what it takes to do whatever it takes. But do we have the will to do it?

13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:13-15)

We have prayed and are praying for those we know who do not know Jesus. We have prayed and are praying for the Lord to send out workers to bring in the harvest. Will we now begin to pray asking God to show us our part in His great mission? Will we do whatever it takes so that some might be saved?

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