每日诗歌: With all I am (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMrAafe7Mns)
“向什么样的人，我就作什么样的人。无论如何，总要救些人” (哥前 9:22) 。在谈过作为一个使徒的权柄之后，保罗对他传福音的信念做了一个大胆激情的宣告。在他看来，与他向外邦人传福音的特权相比，权柄算不得什么。为了达到人们可以随意和他交谈的目的，他愿意放弃自己的声望和地位。有了这样的开始，他才有可能带给他们福音 “为要与人同得这福音的好处” (9:23) 。
Psalm 136 [Read]
Psalm 137 [Read]
Psalm 138 [Read]
Corinthians 9 [Read]
Contextualization is the big word I learned shortly after getting into the seminary. It was used by a director of a mission organization to challenge us, the future pastors and missionaries, to think about where we should draw the line between pure and contaminated gospel. It did not register too deeply in my mind at the time, but I begin to understand his challenge after getting into the ministry. It’s indeed a difficult but important question to ask.
“I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1Cor 9:22). After talking about authority of being an Apostle, Paul made a bold and passionate declaration about his conviction in spreading the gospel. To him, the authority is nothing when compared to the privilege he was given to spread the gospel to Gentiles. He was willing to give up his reputation and status for the purpose of making people comfortable to speak to him. With that opening, he might then bring them the gospel and “share in its blessings” (9:23).
The danger of syncretism for such move is obvious. Paul did all those things with a clear goal in mind. “I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man bearing the air” (9:26). He did not run the race for the sake of the race, but for winning the prize – the crown that will last forever (9:25). I believe Paul was talking about the crown of righteousness (2Ti 4:8), which he shall receive from the Lord at the end. Righteousness is the key here, for “being all things to all men” can never be used as excuse to tarnish God’s righteousness. With this in mind, we may then properly understand why he needed to “beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1Cor 9:27).
A legitimate question for Chinese is “should we totally abandon our precious tradition like Confucianism in order to be a good Christian?” I don’t believe so. On the other hand, to put those traditions alongside the Bible or even using those to interpret the Bible is running the risk of “being disqualified for the prize”. All human wisdom needs to be subject to the authority of God, and all those traditions need to be understood under the context of the biblical teaching, not the other way around. Christians must remember the declaration of our Lord: “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mt 28:18).
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