“When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ.”
NLT-1 Corinthians 9:22
For the past year I have been a part of a prayer group made up of fathers. This group meets once a month with the express purpose of studying and learning to “fight for the hearts of our children.” Did I mention that this group meets at 6:30 a.m. in the morning? Needless to say it requires a real sacrifice and commitment from every father participating.
Part of the journey of becoming a Godly father is assessing one’s own personal relationship with Christ. As written by William Shakespeare in Act 1, Scene III, of the famous play, Hamlet, Polonius says,
“This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man/Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”
I discovered that I can never be the father that God created me to be without first being the man he created me to be. This cannot be accomplished without a personal relationship with Christ that brings about complete submission to his will.
By now you are probably asking, what does this have to do with 1 Corinthians 9:22?
The reality is that I cannot hope to have any meaningful impact on my children’s lives unless I meet them where they are, not where I think they ought to be. Am I willing, as Paul was, of “giving up my own will, my own way, my own ease, my own pleasure, and my own profit, that I might save the souls of all.”
Christ was constantly meeting people where they were (both figuratively and iteratively), not waiting for them in the church. He met the Samaritan woman at the well in Samaria. He met the tax collector Zacchaeus going through Jericho. He met the woman with the issue of blood on the way to Jairus’s house. He met the dying thief on the cross.
Years ago my teenage daughter wanted to go to a concert in Atlanta called the Scream Tour, featuring “Little Bow Wow.” Did I mention that the show was on a Sunday afternoon? Instead of lecturing her about all the reasons why she shouldn’t go to the concert, I took her and one of her girlfriends to the concert myself. In the midst of thousands of teenage girls I quickly discovered why they called it the “Scream Tour.”
The reality is that unless we can truly appreciate where others are, we cannot hope to be effective in bringing them to Christ. Whatever it takes without compromising who you are, become that for the cause of Christ.
Pastor James W. Goolsby Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church on New Street in Macon.