1 Corinthians 9:16–23, 2nd lesson for the 5th Sunday after Epiphany, Year B
If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
I’ve lost myself somewhere. Sometimes that really is the way I feel.
The who I am, the what I believe from politics, faith, music, style all of that seems to get lost sometimes. When I am with folks who see the world differently, I try to fit in. In the conversations I have with people whether they are members of our congregation or not, I find that I am watching my tongue. I feel like I have to hide some pieces of myself. I like to tell myself I’ve taken Paul’s words to the early church in Corinth to heart. “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.” Now let me tell you this is hard work. Some folks might tell me I’m being relativistic as if that’s taking the easy way out. Again, let me tell you it takes an awful lot of control to not get up and walk out, but to sit with someone and hear words, statements, and beliefs that I disagree with due to my my experience and faith. It takes a toll to “be” something or someone that I am not. When I want to just let loose, it takes so much energy to continue to listen, to hear some truth, to find common ground. It would be so much easier just to hang out and just to serve those who agree with me 100%. If I did that however, would I be challenged to change and grow in love and patience. The goal of following Jesus isn’t just to fit in. It is to change and transform, to be changed and to be transformed. St. Paul didn’t just make people happy and comfortable in order to be liked. He knew that for there to be a community (church) truly grounded in Christ it needs to be pulling, pushing, and prodding all people into God’s Way. This isn’t accomplished through declarations, decrees, and laws. Instead it is through engagement in deep and profound ways. So as I go about my days the question I continually turn over and over again should be to whom am I losing myself? Hopefully, the answer is to you my brothers and sisters for our sakes and for the sake of the Gospel.