Bible Reading – Galatians 2; I Corinthians 9:18-22
Galatians 2:2 KJV
And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
Stop for a few moments to think about and to be thankful for how much God loves you. Next, stop and consider how many people there are who have never been told about God’s love for them. One Wednesday afternoon during the summer of 2017, I was finishing up dinner at a Wendy’s inside a gas station in Theodore, Alabama. I was with a group of teenagers who had just gone out soul-winning, and our church bus was parked outside. As I was getting a refill on my drink, a lady came up to me and asked me if we had buses that picked up kids for church on Sundays. She had a tired and worn face. Her hair was disheveled, and her clothes were dirty, old, and didn’t match. You could tell that she was someone who lived a difficult life without many comforts, but she worked hard and cared for everything she had. She told me that she lived in Grand Bay on Turkey Farm Rd, and I promised her a Saturday visit. (I should have recognized her need for the Gospel then and there, but sadly I was distracted by my “need” for a drink refill. Fortunately this wouldn’t be the last time I would see her.) That Saturday, I went by her house which was on a dirt road that seemed like it had been washed out several times by heavy rains. It was the kind of dirt road that made you need a new wheel alignment after just one trip. The house itself looked more like a children’s decrepit treehouse than a home for a family, but she along with about eight others lived there. They were unable to come to church that Sunday, but her five precious grandchildren who lived there came for VBS just a couple weeks later. As it was their first time at our church, grandma came to check out the church and make sure everything was ok for the kids. When she arrived, she was greeted by Mr. Scofield, a man with a happy, boisterous, and infectious personality. Mr. Scofield never met a stranger, and he rarely thought too long about what he was going to say before saying it. Occasionally that would get him in trouble, but that day, it was extremely important and eternally significant. Being a far better Christian than I was, Mr. Scofield asked this lady if she knew how much Jesus loved her and if she knew where she would spend eternity. That night, because of the work of Christ on Calvary and because Mr. Scofield cared about souls, she got saved. There are moments in life that you know must be Divine appointments, and this was such a time. For just a few weeks before, I had never seen this woman, and a few weeks later I would never see her again. About 30 minutes from their home on their way back from vacation in Virginia, their vehicle went off the road and flipped several times, killing this recently saved grandmother instantly. While it would have been a blessing for her and good for us if we had given her groceries, purchased her new clothes or renovated parts of her house, none of them would have done her much good for long (though it is always recommended to do good to those in need when we can). Her greatest and most urgent need was Christ. Her family’s greatest need was Christ. Her neighbors greatest need was Christ, and everyone we come into contact with whether they realize it or not has the same desperate need for Christ. And even if they don’t realize that, hopefully we do in an inescapable way.
Paul’s letter to Corinth helps us further understand his heart in Galatians 2:2. The goal and power of the Gospel is redemption and a restored relationship with God. Paul used the Gospel to win others to Christ, understanding that it is a role of the Holy Spirit, not men, to change minds and hearts. It was his job to focus on bringing them to the One Who had the power to change a life. Without changing the Message, Paul adjusted his approach and his demeanor to win people to Christ. People do not come to God our way. They come to God Christ’s way. The Gospel, to Paul, was not about getting his way or proving he was right. The Gospel was about bringing others to Christ and bringing glory to God, even if that caused physical or emotional pain to Paul.
When Hudson Taylor went to China, he took a radically different approach to missions than many missionaries of his day. While there were a few missionaries in some of the open ports in China, most of China was closed to missions work. But when Hudson Taylor arrived, he didn’t try to make the Chinese people look and act like the English people. His goal was far more important. He tried to bring them to Christ. Rather than forcing his culture upon them as many others did, he shared the love of Christ. He actually began dressing and following Chinese culture in order to remove cultural barriers. Taylor said, “China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women … The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, [and] souls first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary.” As is evidenced by his own personal testimony, his motivation was fully that the Chinese would come to know Christ.
It is also apparent by these verses in Galatians that Paul viewed everyone most importantly as a soul. Each person he came into contact with was, most importantly and above all else, someone who needed Christ. As you go about your day, pray that God would give you spiritual eyes to view people through the lens of their most basic, most critical, and most urgent need of salvation. The one who cut you off in traffic isn’t a selfish jerk. They are a sinner who needs someone to share with them the love of Christ (The “perfect” driver also needs Christ). The one who takes your order at a restaurant isn’t just a body in front of a register. They are a soul who will spend eternity in heaven or hell (as is every other person in that restaurant). The one on social media who disagrees with your political stance is someone who needs Christ and to be shown the love of Christ far more than they need a political lesson on the Constitution. The person who agrees with you also has a desperate need for Christ. Each person you come into contact with every day, whether in a positive or negative interaction, has an urgent need for the Gospel that should supersede any other interaction. Paul saw the significance in each person based on their need for the Gospel regardless of their treatment of him. Every topic of conversation was a tool to transition into the Gospel. May we learn from Christ, from Christians of yesteryears, and even from spiritual giants of our day, that each person is first and foremost a soul in need of Christ. It is a change of perspective that should change our interactions in an incredible way!
— Eli Faulds