“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.'” -1 Corinthians 9:19-23
My personal mission statement starts like this: “Building an interest in people…”
I was intentional about the word “interest”. I chose it over words like “investing in”, “empowering”, or even “identifying with”, because the key to mission is not in the act of helping, nor is it in sentimental advocacy. The key is in tying my fate in with people. Making their end, my end. Because that way, and only that way, will my self-interest include them. “Identify”, in it’s thickest meaning, could also work in this case.
One of the hardest-hitting claims against Christians today is that we don’t love, or that our love is conditional–limited to people like us. We very likely deserve it. In too many Christian circles, members of local society (rich or poor) are left out. Our “target audience” is less than all of humanity. The farthest in they may ever get is the soup kitchen or the donation box, because that is the closest any church-goers are willing to get to them. Even if their salvation is at stake.
My personal mission statement begins with “Building an interest in people” because it ends with “and trying everything to bring Jesus back”, and the only way that I can possibly give everything I have–the only way I can try everything–is if my end depends on their end; if I have an interest in them.
Besides, to pretend as if our end doesn’t depend on that of anyone else on the planet is obtuse.
This is the thick definition of love. “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16)
Unless you tie your interests in with the people around you–unless your end depends on their end (and you recognize that)–you will never give everything for their salvation.
It’s what Jesus did. And it’s what he calls us to do.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
Consider this from Micah Bournes and World Relief: