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Summary: Why, how, when, where and to whom are Christians called to witness?

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1 Corinthians 9:16-23

“Meeting People Where They Are”

By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells us: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

He doesn’t tell us to preach the good news only to those who have the same color skin that we have...

...He doesn’t tell us to preach the good news only to those with the same socio-economic backgrounds as we have...

...He doesn’t tell us to preach the good news only to those we feel comfortable around...

...He tells us to “Go into all the world”...

...and as we know, this world is a melting pot of different nationalities, different languages, different

backgrounds, different worldviews, different mental capabilities, different hurts and different sensitivities...

...and we are called---as we bring this good news of Jesus Christ to all people---to be sensitive to these

differences.

In our Scripture Lesson for this morning we see that the apostle Paul was more than willing to give up his

personal privileges, social and religious rights--when dealing with different kinds of people.

“I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”

Now, when Paul says that he became all things to all people, this does not mean that he compromised his

convictions...nor does it mean that he was trying to trick others into thinking he was something he was not.

What it does mean is that Paul got next to other people, he gained their confidence and trust, he did not

judge them, he met them where they were.

And he did this “all for the sake of the gospel.”

And as United Methodists, we come from a long heritage of those who were willing to meet people

where they were so as “to win as many as possible.”

Our founder, John Wesley was an ordained priest in the Church of England. He was a brilliant scholar

who had been highly educated.

Ten years after Wesley had been ordained a priest he had his conversion or born again experience, and he

went on to share the good news that he had experienced with as many people as possible.

Wesley’s message is our message: Salvation is for everyone and can be found only through Jesus

Christ.

A new life awaits anyone who loves Christ, repents of their sins, believes in God’s saving grace and follows

Christ’s example.

The problem came when many churches refused to let Wesley preach his emotional message of

salvation through Christ....but that didn’t stop Wesley...he became all things to all people.

During Wesley’s time, New factories in England were drawing thousands of poor people from the

countryside into the overcrowded cities.

And these people were brutalized by the harsh working conditions and pitiful living environments.

So Wesley took his message into the open fields...where these people were...and the crowds grew rapidly.

He faced lots of opposition and even mob violence, but his sincerity shone through and even the most

hostile of people were often converted.

John Wesely gained a great following, and he and his followers continued to reach out to the poor and


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