In 2 Cor. 5:20, Paul refers to himself and the other apostles as ambassadors for Christ. He said to the church at Corinth, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us”. Then he said, we pray you in Christ’s stead that you be reconciled to God.
In other words, Christ has gone back to the Father. So we are here in His place appealing to you to be reconciled with God.
That role now belongs to us. Christ is gone; the apostles are gone. So now we are the ones who must reach out to the lost to appeal to them to come to God. In other words, we are the ambassadors for Christ today.
But it seems that most Christians have little appetite for Winning the lost. In a recent Multigenerational Survey on Evangelism, 1600 Christians were asked why they don’t share their faith. One question was, “What Prevents You from Sharing Your Faith?” The largest percentage, 22%, said they were afraid to share their faith; 10% didn’t feel equipped to share their faith.
About 25 years ago, the church I was pastoring at that time started going into the neighborhoods to share their faith. That was an intimidating time for them. They had not done it before. They didn’t feel qualified to do it. It was that fear of the unknown. But those who stuck with it got the hang of it.
Today, 25 years later, we live in a much more complex society. Everybody’s so different. People and our world are more complicated these days. The result is that winning the lost to Christ these days is more a challenge.
Three Points on Winning the Lost
In his first epistle to the church at Corinth, Paul the apostle shares his approach to winning the lost, which I believe is good advice for us as well. Here are three take aways from what he shares:
1. Have the heart of a servant. “Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more,” Paul writes (1 Cor. 9:19, KJV). This is such an important point; that is, doing what you do for God with the heart of a servant. I have always taken that attitude in the ministry. As a pastor, my goal is to serve the people of God and not for them to serve me. And notice Paul’s objective—”that I might gain the more.”
2. Try putting yourself in the shoes of the other person. “Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law” (verse 20). Paul is saying, I try to become as the person I am trying to win. Sometimes, it’s a mystery to us why people are not as responsive to the gospel as we think they should be. But if we tried to identify with their situation, we may get a better understanding as to why that is the case.
For instance, consider a woman who is living with a man she is not married to, and he is her only source of financial support. Knowing that abandoning her lifestyle to follow Christ also means having nowhere to go and no money to survive makes it easier said than done.
3. Be willing to bear the infirmities of the weak. “To the Weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak,” Paul continues (verse 22a). Some people are emotionally weaker or physically weaker or spiritually weaker than others are.
Over the years as a pastor, I have had a few of those “weak” church members. Secretly, I refer to them as my high maintenance members. They are the ones who call you for every little thing. They seem to become unglued by the least of things. If you are serious about trying to reach someone like that for Christ, be prepared to invest a little more of your time.
Sad but true, these regarded as weak tend to fall through the crack because they demand more than we are often willing to invest. Even though the Bible says we who are strong should bear the infirmities of the weak (Romans 15:1). Paul says here, I became like the weak so that I might win the weak.
You know, I really get what Paul shares here about his approach to winning the lost. I hereby acknowledge its practical value even as a parent.
My wife and I have six children. Though they all came from the same parents, each one is so different. We want all of them to love and to serve the Lord. But to reach them, we have to deal with each of them based on the unique person he or she is. Similarly, each person we attempt to reach for Christ can have its own set of challenges.
Finally, Paul says, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (verse 22b). And I emphasize the last word–some. We won’t be successful every time we reach out to the lost. But I do believe that if we receive and apply the insights found in these words from Paul the apostle, we will become more effective at winning the lost.
Copyright © 2020 by Frank King. All rights reserved.