All Things To All Men

Monday, February 02, 2009 (Edited 2/12/2011)

"To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." (1Co 9:22)

Based on 1 Corinthians 9:22, would the Apostle Paul have approved of the use of worldly music to reach unsaved people? What about this idea that you meet people where they are, using their own habits, addictions and lifestyles to "relate" to them so that you might have the opportunity to present them with the Gospel?

It becomes clear through a careful reading of the passage that Paul is not discussing engaging in unscriptural practices in order to somehow gain a more favorable opinion of himself. Rather, he was teaching that in order to rid his life of distractions that would hinder his presentation of the good news, he was willing to lay aside certain freedoms that he had in Christ. For example, to witness to Jewish listeners, he would place himself under additional Jewish laws and customs that were far stricter than the lifestyle restrictions placed upon him by being a follower of Jesus Christ. Paul was not willing to do anything that would drag another person lower in holiness. Read the following passage to see how carefully he would avoid misleading others:
    "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." (1Co 8:6-13)
Paul understood the principle of removing every distraction from the clear presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was not becoming "like the world to win the world;" rather he was distancing himself from anything that would cause others to be "offended," or to fall back into sin.

The use of worldly music styles to evangelize the lost is a misguided attempt to justify the means by supposedly producing a good end result. God never condones the use of worldly, fleshly, or devilish means to witness to the unsaved.

Does this mean that there is a Biblical problem with "Christian Rock?" Certainly! Neither Paul nor Christ would excuse the practice of using wicked behavior to win the lost. It is no more right to call worldly music "Christian" than it would be to use terms like "Christian pornography" or "Christian murder" or "Christian thievery" or "Christian drunkenness." Those who have turned to Christ have turned from these things.

So, let's be "all things to all men" in the sense that Paul intended. Let's remove the stumbling blocks from our lives, so that we can be clearer, brighter "lights" (Matt. 5:14) and tastier "salt" (Matt. 5:13) to those around us.

Curtis Hollembeak

Curtis holds a bachelor's degree in Bible with a music minor, as well as a master's degree in Sacred Music, having studied under Dr. Frank Garlock, president of Majesty Music, and Ray and Ann Gibbs, well-known Christian singers. He has served as music director and jr. high/high school supervisor at Grace Baptist Church of Mankato, Minnesota; school music director at the Franklin Road Christian School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; media engineer for the Sword of the Lord in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and, full-time music director at Second Baptist Church and Twin City Christian Academy in Festus, Missouri. He is currently self-employed and serves in the music ministry of the Berean Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. Curtis is co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. He regularly sings bass with the Bible Truth Chorale on recordings produced by Bible Truth Music at Faith Music Missions.