October 4th 2010

All Things To All Men

“…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
1 Corinthians 9:22 NKJV

On October 2, 2009, it was the commemoration of Mahatma Ghandi’s 140th birthday. 

Mahatma is a title which means “great soul”. His famous sayings were quoted quite often during the days of commemoration which followed. One that I had heard before was his response when he was asked what religion he followed. “I am,” he said, “a Hindu, a Buddhist, a follower of Jesus, and a Jew”. Was his idea similar to the apostle Paul’s, expressed in verses 19-23, of the passage quoted in part above? 

It is often levelled at the Christian today, living as we do in a pluralistic society, that Paul was tolerant of all religions—why can’t you be as well? And it is true that a Christian should respect the tenets and sensibilities of other faiths as part of our faith, and not just because it is the law of the land. 

But Paul goes on to say that although he could meet people “where they were”, that didn’t mean that he should or did compromise his own standards. He says, verse 21 “to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law towards God [myself], but under law toward Christ….” Christians should maintain high ideals. The standard set for us by our elder Brother, Saviour and Lord is: “Love one another as I have loved you”. And that applies to Hindu, Muslim, fellow Christian of another fellowship or Jew. 

In other words, we meet them all in love, not hate or suspicion, but at the same time without compromise either to our own religion or our own understanding as to its standards for our conduct, conversation or behaviour. At all times and before all men and women we are to be Christians.

Most merciful Father, thank you that we are enabled by your instructions to live at peace with all men, and to do so even in this age of collisions between faiths of the world. Help us to set the standard for others in our behaviour—your standard—whilst at the same time modelling in love the Christian religion we have been called to follow as a witness, for others to see. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford 

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