Know your audience to reach them correctly
Preaching the gospel to the myriads of cultures around the world takes wisdom. It takes
God’s wisdom to know and understand the pitfalls that you can come across in cross-cultural ministry. Each culture has ways of understanding things which are different than yours. Jews seek after a sign but the Greeks seek after wisdom. Knowing how to reach your audience is paramount. The early missionaries to the Goths and Saxons were trying to bring a gospel by “turning the cheek” where as the indigenous peoples felt you had to prove your god’s power by strength or might. They inadvertently presented an undesirable milk toast, wimpy God not the God who made the universe in absolute power. In some places in the orient, you must be very well educated to earn your listener’s respect. Today, many missionaries immerse themselves in the tribal cultures for years to successfully reach them. Unfortunately in PNG, without knowing it, many short sighted missionaries inadvertently present a God who can be bought or obliged to bless them by obedience to the 10 Commandments because they don’t know the traditional beliefs that people can indenture the spirits to bless them and circumvent tragedy in life by their adherence to taboos and obedience to rules. So God becomes just one more Big Spirit on the list of other spirits to have to appease. The point is to know the intricacies of the culture and language you are speaking to before you try to give them the Gospel so that you know how they perceive it.
Discipline of an apostle
15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. 16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it. 19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make 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 men 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. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who desires people from all walks of life to hear my good news through you, both Jew and Gentile. Thus I need people who can minister to every culture in their own special way. Do you know someone who needs me that is in your same situation? Then reach out to him or her with my Gospel as you are better equipped to do so than anyone else. Live your life before them as an example and extension of my life and love. But tell them the Gospel, and all that which I have done for them so that they see my glory and repent and receive my forgiveness. Otherwise they will just think you are a nice person and you receive glory instead of me.
I AM the God who will reward you for your participation in sharing my good news with others. Just as I was compelled to come to earth to provide your salvation, so too, I desire you to feel compelled to tell of it to others out of gratitude for the salvation that was offered to you. When you suffer for your part in giving others the gospel, you share in my suffering, and if you suffer with me, then you will share in my glory. Train yourself to be ready to suffer so that when it happens, you will know how to respond.
Salvation cost you nothing, but living for your faith may cost you your all
Paul says that he becomes all things to all men so that he might win some. He also says that he fills up in his body that which is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. It will cost you much to take the Gospel to others; costs that would have to be paid for by Christ himself if he was still on this earth today and had to reach all 7 billion people on earth personally. There are many costs that Christians must pay to do his great commission around the globe for him. Many of them are very costly indeed, but none of them will go unrewarded if done in the right spirit. To say that there are no costs to be a Christian is wrong even though your salvation is bought and paid for you by Christ. The Gospel is about living for eternity and helping others do so too. Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose.” Jesus said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but to lose his own soul?”
More to come,