All Things To All People

I’ve been considering 1 Corinthians 9:22 a lot the past few months. Then today, this concept cropped up in my devo, so I figured it was time to stop sitting on it and hit publish. This verse says, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

This was always confusing to me, as at first glance or out of context it sounds like Paul’s being fake to get people to Christ. But in context, we can see that the idea of all things to all people is not centered on identity, but on empathy. Paul makes it very clear in the preceding verses that he does not alter his identity to become all things to all people, but rather I read it as a shifting between experiences. To win Jews, Paul draws on his experience as a Jew. To win the weak, he draws on his own moments of weakness, etc.

All things to all people means our experiences become our weapons in the war for hearts in Jesus’ name. Our mutual wounds bring us close to others. Our scars lift the outstretched hand of “me too.” Through our stories told, we are all brought close around the firelight of the Gospel. And while that doesn’t make your or my heartache not hurt, it does give a light at the end of that long, difficult tunnel. Someday, if you’re willing to see it and share it, God will use your heartbreak to connect another to the light of the Gospel. That’s redemption – it’s what God’s all about.

And though it scares me to say, if I follow this path of logic, that means the more heartbreak I experience, the more broken and hurting people God has the opportunity to connect me with. I’m not there yet, but someday I hope I can see my hurt through that lens alone, and consider it, like James says, pure joy.

All Things To All People

All things to all people

May very well be a thing

We Christians like to say,

But it’s not always pretty.

When Paul penned that phrase

I’d say he had a pretty fair view

Of the reality and way that could play.

Because when Paul said

All things to all people,

One day that meant

The jail doors were open,

But he told Silas to wait.

And though he didn’t know it yet,

All things to all people

Meant a ship wrecked at sea,

It meant words penned for you and me,

It would mean speaking his story

Bravely and boldly –

A story of being lost

And being angry,

Of encounter, newfound family.

See, all things to all people

Was never a change in identity,

But a connection, finding empathy.

For Paul and Silas,

All things to all people meant

If being prisoners sets someone free,

Then prisoners we’ll gladly be.

But this concept wasn’t new.

Jesus, he always knew

How to be all things to all people.

Once he spat on some dust,

That time he said, “Stand up.”

When his feet were perfumed,

When he washed the feet of a few,

When he said, “Come and see,”

When he asked, “Who touched me?”

When he sat down with the kids,

Or ate dinner with Judas.

All things to all people,

Jesus, he lived it.

Our High Priest gets this mandate,

And he 100% relates,

Because for him

All things to all people

Went all the way to the cross

Where he hung in my place.

But for me here, today,

I’m asking for vision,

The kind that Jesus walked with.

Only with his eyes could

“On the way” be the destination,

And could betrayal mean redemption.

With Jesus’ kind of vision

All things to all people

Could mean the difference

Between just awful circumstances

And purpose.

Do you see it’s a chain?

The way he repurposes my pain?

Jesus cleared the way,

Wrote the book on using

The trials of every day

To come alongside and relate

To the hurting and the broken.

And that’s got me thinking

That maybe someday

My own betrayal, loneliness, failure, fear

Could be woven into the rope

That pulls you near

To the Savior.

My all things to all people might hurt,

But man would that make it all

Worth it.

If Jesus suffered and brutally died,

And then was raised back to life,

All with clear purpose in mind-

My life –

The surely, with that same Spirit,

So can I.

Through the trial I can know,

And be convinced in my bones,

That while this place may seem dark,

This situation so messy and hard,

My all things to all people

Is just getting its start.


One response to “All Things To All People”

  1. Melinda Gilbert Avatar
    Melinda Gilbert

    Beautifully written.

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