19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law,[a] I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.
22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
–1 Corinthians 9:19-27 (NLT)
Vision is a word that expresses a sense of being goal oriented, intentional or purposeful. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 the apostle Paul’s vision was to introduce people to the good news of Jesus Christ. His strategy? Holding on to the truths of the gospel he “became a slave to all people to bring many to Christ” (vs. 19). He adapted to the perspectives of those he was trying to reach. “Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some” (vs. 22). From the missionary sent to a foreign land to a local church commissioned to reach their community, this principle is critical to success: sharing Jesus with others.
THREE “CHURCH” VISIONS
Israel’s history from the time of Solomon until the exiles returned from Babylon provides three important lessons for us today. I have identified them as 1) an Ecclesiastes church, 2) a Haggai church and 3) an Ezra-Nehemiah church. Vision plays an important role in each of these ‘churches’ and the next three articles will detail why I chose those three examples.