John Paul and Ruby Lee Hundley inspire and encourage me. I met them shortly after I moved here about 6 years ago. When Joyce and I came to Fort Smith, John Paul was a business man in Fort Smith. A few years ago he and Ruby Lee moved to France to again involve themselves in mission work after years of not being directly involved in a mission effort.

When they acted on their decision, I saw a love and fulfillment in them that simply overflowed. They really enjoy living there, and really enjoy helping the people! When they first went, they faced all kinds of discouragement from their past world here. Yet, they refused to be distracted or discouraged.

I want to read a statement Paul made in I Corinthians 9. I encourage you to read with me.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

  1. Allow me to challenge you to think about a few things from Paul's statement.
    1. Paul stressed he made himself a slave to other people and their spiritual needs.
      1. If any of us serve God with a whole life devotion that involves sacrificial love, it will not be because God commanded it; it will be because we desire it.
      2. Paul had an objective that was personal, that consumed him--he wanted to win people to God through Jesus Christ.
        1. Why did he have this devotion that some would regard an obsession?
        2. Paul was rescued from opposing God, and deeply appreciated that rescue.
        3. He wanted others to benefit from what he so deeply treasured.
    2. Paul did an extremely difficult thing--Paul learned to think like people whose way of thinking was radically different from his own.
      1. He did not do that to win arguments; he did that to communicate with them with understanding.
      2. When Joyce and I first committed to mission work, I was very naive.
        1. I thought people spoke different languages, but thought alike, using identical thought patterns.
        2. I quickly learned that, while most different cultures speak different languages, and their thought patterns are also different.
        3. John Paul, I first discovered that truth in my interaction with and exposure to the French.
      3. Paul said he learned how different people thought so he could speak their language using thoughts and words they understood.
        1. Thinking like a first century Israelite in Palestine likely was simple--that is where his education occurred.
        2. Thinking like a first century Israelite who live outside of Palestine likely was simple--he grew up in a Jewish community in Tarsus a long way from Palestine.
      4. The rest had to be very difficult.
        1. All his life his thinking and behavior was shaped by thinking in terms of Jewish religious law.
          1. The Christian Paul taught a lot of people who knew nothing about Jewish law.
          2. He learned to think like a person who was never controlled by Law thinking.
          3. That had to be hard!
        2. He learned to think like people who were weak.
          1. There are many things I consider Paul being before and after meeting Jesus Christ on the Damascus road.
          2. Weak is not one of them!
          3. Learning to think from the world and realities of the weak had to be demanding!
        3. No matter who Paul was among, he accepted the responsibility of thinking as they thought so he could communicate his thoughts with them.
    3. Why? Why did he do this?
      1. He wanted to use every possible means to help people understand their need of Jesus Christ.
      2. The good news he learned about Jesus Christ was so wonderful that he could not know what it did for him and not share it with others who could be bless by it as was he.
      3. In fact, if that good news was to bless him, he had to share it.

  2. I want you to consider something I regard quite important.
    1. Paul did not say, "I have something you really need, but if you are going to receive it, it is your responsibility to learn my vocabulary, my thought process, my concepts so I can share it with you."
      1. "You become like me, and I will tell you what you need to know."
      2. That is precisely opposite Paul's thinking and approach.
      3. Obviously, Paul did not live in spiritual isolation and demand the world come to him.
    2. Neither can we live in isolation and demand that the world come to us.
      1. We cannot say to people, "We have some information you really need. Learn to think and do as we do, and we will share it with you."
      2. We cannot and must not live in the isolation of our own little world and blame everyone else for not hearing us.
    3. The same thing that was important to Paul must become important to us.
      1. We must accept the responsibility to think through the minds of others and see through the eyes of others if we want them to understand why we chose to belong to Christ.
      2. Even those who would accept Jesus Christ as the Savior will not respond to him unless we make him understandable to them.

That will not happen because we are "commanded to do it."

That will happen because, like Paul, we value what Jesus Christ does for us.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 8 June 2003

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