17 May 2019

1 Corinthians 9:15-27

I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some. (v. 22b)

Psalm: Psalm 133


After nearly forty years as a minister, one thing that concerns me is the fact that Christianity is irrelevant to so many.

But think for a moment of going somewhere you have never been before. To some this will feel like an adventure. To others it is frightening. Imagine going to a betting shop or to a party where people are taking drugs. How do you feel? Out of place? Uncomfortable? I don’t even know how to place a bet. I haven’t got the language. Yet we ask people to come to church expecting them to learn a whole new language, adopt a new culture.

Perhaps it is we who should be learning the language of others, seeking to understand a different culture. Even when we ‘plant churches’ our action can be almost Victorian, like explorers entering a strange domain to show misguided people how they ought to live. And, of course, that is ‘like us’.

In recent years, new churches have come into being. Perhaps you are part of one, more likely not. I’m thinking of groups of young people going clubbing, coming home late who need a taxi and who find a safe place in the basement café of an inner city church at three in the morning. Or those sleeping on our streets who have made friends with whom to bake bread and drink soup, to talk together. Or those who need to ask difficult questions about the apparently random cancer that is killing a child. The first need is not to ask if they have faith, or have found Jesus. Rather can we see Jesus in them, can they see Christ in us?

At Christmas God became human for all of us in order for us to know we are loved – all things to all people. I wonder when we will begin to understand and live the meaning of the incarnation!


To Ponder:

  • What do you do try to understand people who have no interest in the church?
  • Have you ever had a conversation with someone who doesn’t understand your faith? If so, how well did you understand them?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Pratt

Andrew is a Methodist supernumerary presbyter, Honorary Research Fellow at Luther King House, Manchester, and author. He has written over 1,450 hymns.

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