We Don’t Serve Your Kind
I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:22-23
Twenty-five years ago, while in medical school, I considered a few different career options: Family Practice, Emergency Medicine, Obstetrics. Never though, did I consider working in addiction medicine. It just wasn’t on my radar at all. If you’d have asked me for whom I wished to provide care, if I’d have been completely honest, I’d have told you that I wanted to work with upper class, financially successful patients. Skin color wasn’t a concern, but I preferred to work with those of a certain socioeconomic status.
I ended up working in the Emergency Room and Urgent Care, however. Medical emergencies happen to everyone, so I’ve had opportunity – for which I’m now grateful – to work with those across every socioeconomic level. Due to my own struggle with drugs, I now spend about half my time working in addiction medicine. Though this isn’t the population I imagined I wanted to serve 25 years ago, I’ve got to admit that I’ve never been more satisfied in my career. As it turns out, I’ve probably got more in common with this people group than with that upper class ideal that I envisioned back in medical school.
In today’s passage, Paul described the humility and commitment it took to spread the gospel across cultural lines. In it, he said that he was willing to become whatever he needed and go to whomever he needed, just to have a chance to share the gospel. He did it for the sake of those who needed to hear and he did it for himself, because in being obedient, he shared in God’s blessing. Paul didn’t worry about his pride, his prejudices, or his cultural preferences. He simply loved all as God loved all and did whatever it took to share that love.
This doesn’t mean that we all must become drug addicts to minister to drug addicts. It does mean that God’s love is bigger than our pride and prejudices. It means that we must be better than our own narrow-mindedness, loving as God loves. Like Paul, we must become whatever God wants, going wherever God wants, not loving only those we consider to be our kind. Before God, we’re all in desperate need of his grace, love, and forgiveness. Sharing that love is a privilege and we’ll find ourselves blessed when we abandon our arrogance and intolerance to be part of God’s plan.