“20When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. 22When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.”1 Corinthians 9:20-22
Without a doubt, the image above is photoshopped. I am not even sure how I came across it, but it really caught my attention. An accompanying link [see bottom of post] takes you to an article that tells of a restoration project for the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse that will include installing a giant disco ball, a speaker system that will play the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and an opening ceremony with John Travolta and Disco Stu. I must admit that it sounded very convincing at first, however, after searching for additional references regarding this groovy endeavor, I soon found out that it was a humorous farce. Not to mention that the article was written on April 1st. Nevertheless, I think that such a ludicrous and most likely unapprovable project would result in a major attraction. I even think that with proper planning and engineering it could actually work and the Cape Hatteras light would function just like any other lighthouse with a traditional Fresnel lens. So, after a few seconds of disappointment turned amusement, here is how the idea of a disco ball on a lighthouse reminds me of Paul’s resolve to reach anyone, by any means, with the light of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
In his attempt to get the attention of and have a greater influence over the unsaved, Paul would have had to become familiar with their particular culture and idioms and be willing to adapt to them without participating in what would be deemed lawless or immoral (vs. 21). Why? Simply because he thought it was worth it in order to rescue (save) even if just a few for the kingdom of heaven. If Paul thought that it was necessary to find common grounds with non-Christians two thousand years ago, how much more should we today, especially with the increased apathy and anti-religious sentiment caused by charlatans and unscrupulous “Christians?”
Unfortunately, there are those who take the assimilation concept a little too far today. They believe that in order to be able to convert they need to conform.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2
While I do not condone the theology of Liberal and Progressive Christianity, I do believe that when trying to reach any particular group of non-believers, we can and should adapt to their environment and make the necessary changes in order to effectively deliver the message of salvation. This, of course, without changing the message itself. And, we can certainly learn a thing or two from Paul so that we can avoid the potential pitfalls. We should seize every opportunity we have to share the love of God with everyone, both verbally and tangibly. Without compromising sound biblical theology, we need to use creative tactics and wisdom permeated with grace to engage people in spiritual conversations that can make a difference between heaven and hell. This may call for us to do things that go against our traditional and conventional convictions/customs without breaking secular or divine laws, of course.
So, how can we accomplish this? First, we need to understand that in order for non-believers to listen to us and even consider our message, we must first know what their real struggles in life are. In other words, where they are spiritually, morally, and emotionally. And how can we know this? By engaging them in regular conversations with genuine interest and love. Sometimes people just automatically open up when someone is simply listening. We may not be able to empathize with them, but we can certainly sympathize. Then, we must become aware of what is important to them. Again, asking the right questions can reveal all that you need to lead them towards Calvary’s cross. If we demonstrate genuine concern, we will approach them like Jesus did, with compassion and without a judgemental attitude. This would definitely allow us to be more effective in communicating the life-changing truth of the Gospel.
Yet, some will argue that we need not change our traditional approach to church and evangelism in order to win souls. However, I would argue that this attitude can, and has, become a barrier when trying to reach some people, especially in today’s morally decaying and increasingly irreligious modern societies. Nevertheless, I do realize that in trying to “witness” effectively, some have adopted a watered-down Gospel and even deviated from the truth. With that in mind, we need to continue to strengthen our faith and mature spiritually by committing to biblical disciplines on a daily basis. We must also pray that it is the Holy Spirit, not our emotions, guiding us when witnessing to others. And, we should pray for, not criticize, those whose genuine love for the lost motivate them to find new ways to minister by adding creativity to their approach. Remember, the most important thing is that we keep shining the light, with or without the extra color, glitter, and glow. And for that, I too echo Paul’s words…
But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.Philippians 1:18
Let’s be honest, a giant disco glass ball on the Cape Hatteras lighthouse would definitely catch the attention of just about everyone, including those navigating the treacherous Atlantic coast. How would you like to capture the attention of all those who still need to know about Jesus? Remember, when you have someone’s attention, a lot of (good) things can happen!
Prayer: Father of light, may your light shine through me with power and grace. No one is ever too far away to see the light of your salvation. However, there may be some that I meet that may seem to be surrounded by impenetrable darkness. So, like Paul, give me a heart that is willing to do whatever it takes to reach them and direct them towards your eternal light. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
“Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” – Jude 1:23 NLT
“Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” – Psalm 82:4 NASB