Jesus once told his disciples that the road to heaven is narrow and sparsely populated. But he also said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”. This sounds a bit confusing, doesn’t it? The truth is, no one really knows the answer to the question of how many—or how few—will be saved.
This is probably one reason why Paul was so dedicated to his work as an apostle. He knew the joy of heaven, and he didn’t want anyone to miss out on it. And so he made it his life’s mission to become ‘all things to all’ so that he could ‘save at least some’ (1 Cor 9:22). You can sense Paul’s determination from the fact that he used the word ‘win’ four times in just three verses (9:20-22). ‘Winning’ for him meant bringing people to the Lord. It meant doing anything he could so that people could come to know Jesus’ salvation.
So how can we win people to Jesus? Paul would tell us to learn how to talk about sports so that we can meet sports fans on their level. He would tell us to learn how to talk about current events with an accent on God’s plan. He would tell us to learn what it means to have nothing so that we can relate to the poor or what the main concerns of young people are so that we can put ourselves in their shoes and win them.
Paul adapted his teaching to the culture of each city he visited so that he could reach the people there in words and images they would understand. That’s a great example for us. Paul’s example urges us not to be a stumbling block to other people because we don’t understand their culture or their interests. So let’s all imitate Paul and become as flexible and adaptable as possible so that we can help as many people as possible come closer to Jesus.