Out To Everybody
As I read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 1, I am impressed by the determination of the apostle Paul to witness to the unsaved. He joined in their ranks so that some could be won to Jesus Christ. Many of these people were unlikely candidates for God's favor. The religious hierarchy of that time had little or no interest in their spiritual well being. Paul is demonstrating that the gospel is for all people.
Upon reading and studying these passages, Paul's example is not lost on me. There are people groups who have never heard the gospel or are under represented. Many transgender and gender variant people come from a church background but all they sometimes hear is ridicule and scorn. Many are not welcome in mainline denominations or are made to be invisible. As a transgender person, I find this behavior disturbing.
I praise God for ministries who do reach out to transgender and gender variant people. Organizations such as the Metropolitan Community Churches and Unitarian churches are welcoming and inclusive of transgender people. As I mentioned in a previous article, church should be the one place where people should be free to relax and be themselves.
Paul did whatever he could to witness to people. In verse nineteen, Paul states" I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible." He had every right to get material support for his preaching but elected not to exercise those rights. Paul became a Jew so that he could win Jews to Christ (v.20). He became as those not having the law in order that they could be won to Jesus (v.21). These people were the Gentiles. Paul identified with the weak2 (v.22) so that the weak could become Christians. Paul did not participate in many of their activities, but he identified and associated with them.
In the seventeenth chapter of Acts, Paul visited the city of Athens. He was saddened by all the idolatry in the city. Paul took note of a particular statue dedicated to the "Unknown God". There was an opportunity to reveal who that person was. Paul witnessed to the Epicureans3 and Stoics4, two groups of philosophers who spent their days listening to anything that was new. As a result of making Jesus known to them, a few converts were won over to Christ.
through the gospels, Jesus did the same thing. He attended a wedding. He joined
in celebration with Matthew and his tax collector friends. I'm very sure that
the wine was flowing and the atmosphere boisterous. Jesus dined with a Pharisee.
Jesus treated all people with respect and dignity.
On of the hallmarks of the early Christian church that impressed the pagans was its inclusiveness. Most of the pagan religions were exclusive and secretive. Here women, beggars, the uneducated, the lame, harlots, and outcasts were welcome. I believe that gender variant people graced the door of the fledgling church. Thinking about my own transgender status, I wonder if it was God's plan for me to be transgender so other trans and gender variant people could be won over to Jesus?
Christian in Latin is 'christianus' which means "belonging to Christ"5. I cannot understand how people who claim they belong to Christ can treat transgender as if they were a plague. Difference adds much to a congregation and I do believe that there were transgender people in the early church. God sometimes works through channels that we may not have ever considered. Are transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and intersex people that channel? Keep in mind that most of the disciples were uneducated fisherman.
a Christian I am to witness and proclaim the gospel to the unsaved. If Paul
were here today, I believe that he would identify with transgender and gender
variant people in order to win them over to Christ. Paul never compromised
his Christian witness, but it wasn't beneath him to associate with the people
in order to demonstrate that God loves them too. A precious soul is more important
than how others view me. Seeing my trans brother and trans sister brought
into the kingdom of God is what brings joy to my soul.
1. Quoted from the NIV Bible.
2. The weak were those whose consciences were weak. Paul abstained from eating meat because some of these people offered meat in their idol sacrifices. Many of the new converts came from such backgrounds.
3. Epicureans were members of a philosophical school who believed that happiness is the goal of life. See Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, p. 344.
4. The Stoics were another group of philosophers who stressed the attainment of virtue as the highest goal. (Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, 970).
5. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, p. 210.
© 2008 Gennee
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