1 Cor. 9:19-23, (pilot text): Paul can be easily misunderstood, can't he? In this whole area of his letter, my "take" is that Paul is on a tangent, or line of thought, which pertains generally to his "right" to be called an emissary. He was under great stress, because other Nazarenes were questioning him constantly -- they didn't trust him completely. He seemed to be associating with people others turned their noses up at. Some even thought he 'believed' differently. He wanted only to say that he was under compulsion to spread the message of the Reign of YHWH to all mankind, not for any boasting or reward. He tries to explain why it is that he speaks to anyone who will listen. He doesn't seem to see anyone as a lost cause, but all have the potential to win. He calls his journey a race -and he encounters all types of people along the way. Some are beginning. Others are farther along in knowledge.
Even though Paul understood many things more deeply than other Nazarenes, like the meaning of the New Covenant (the Torah written on our hearts and minds), he knew we needed other basic advice; like how to get along with each other, and others who were not yet "all there".
Many nations are the seed of the Abrahamic Promise -- and the Spirit of Yahushua within us has a goal which many of us push into the background. He wants to use us to reach the lost sheep of the tribes of Israel -- the 10 lost tribes -with the message of the Kingdom of YHWH. How committed to this are we? Many place their highest goal on finding and meeting with others who believe like they do. Seeking others who use the same words, observe the same appointments, and a similar knowledge-level make the Kingdom of YHWH more like an "Us versus Them" meeting. We can "see" the Kingdom of YHWH, because we are of it; but ALL of us are sent to gather more to the wedding supper. We must have more workers for the harvest!
In 1 Cor. 9, Paul is telling us we must become "like" the people around us -- that is, "infiltrate" them. This prisoner was dedicated to the Name, the appointed times, and so on; but he could not accept others who were different, even his own wife and child. I wrote to him about this. Even if it takes a lifetime, our place on this Earth is to help those who need us the most. It is NOT our mission to group together only with others who already follow and understand; we are SENT to help those being called-out.
I am sometimes criticized for the type of people I attract as my clientele -- the customers who come into my store are often adulterers, drug-addicts, alcoholics, thieves, liars, -- you know; REGULAR PEOPLE. But, I have been sent to them. From this number of sinful people, Yahushua is calling forth Children of YHWH. I understand Paul, because I am sent to the same kind of people -- all kinds. I talk to observant Yahudim who don't know that Mashiach has come. They are "under the law", which according to Deut. 2830 only promises blessings for obedience, and curses for disobedience. Paul sees this as very narrow with his eternal perpectives, given to him by the New Covenant. Paul has much to teach us all, but sadly few seem to understand him -- that's why Peter warned us in his letter about misinterpreting Paul "lawlessly". While we put forth our greatest efforts to meet with the saved, perhaps we should put forth as much effort to reach the lost. As seen today, the "2-tiered system" of pastor/flock is a remnant of centuries of human control. Often only one or two are ever heard speaking in assemblies. We must not remain stagnant, frozen pew-sitters. Most of us must become teachers ourselves, and become like our teacher. We need pastors, but this is not to say a pastor will rule over us for all our lives. Some of us must become pastors, evangelists, teachers, healers, givers, etc.,. these are "gifts" for the Body, and to the Body, which is served by all of us. This "Body" is Yahushua's Bride -- and many of them are waiting to hear from us. (The "givers" should carefully read 2 Cor. 8:3,4: "For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty for the favor OF PARTICIPATING IN THE SUPPORT OF THE SAINTS." The idea continues in v. 14, "At this present time your abundance being a SUPPLY FOR THEIR WANT, that their abundance (one day) also may become a supply for your want, that there may be equality." This "support" was for those saints in dire NEED.)
At our meetings, we should let the Spirit of Yahushua speak to the group through whoever can give a teaching. You can plan a lecture topic, then the BODY of believers should ALL have the opportunity to speak, as Paul directed us. Note: 1 Cor. 14:26 states, "When you assemble, EACH ONE has a psalm, HAS A TEACHING, HAS A REVELATION, has a TONGUE, has an INTERPRETATION." This does not sound like one man dominating the group — the Spirit of Yahushua uses each one to speak to the Body!
I've found that the smaller the study group is, the better. Some things may come up that everyone needs to hear, but no one saw coming. The Spirit uses His Body to speak to us, so we should not imitate the Nicolaitans by just having one person's voice still everyone else's. It seems that many Natsarim focus on finding others to meet with, which is of course great; however our MAIN objective is to carry the message to the lost. Our meetings should encourage us, and we should gain instruction in how to accomplish our real goal -- teaching others, and immersing them. Remember, this is for ALL of us to do, not just a "leader".
The students of Yahushua took 3 1/2 years to get the basics. He left us so that He could live in all of us -- and we should listen to Him, and let Him use us to reach those who would otherwise never hear the Truth. We are sent to the lost -- so let's not turn our backs on those we were sent to. Let him use you to perfect and call-out His Bride. Take Paul's advice, and become "as" an unbeliever, in order to save some of them. As you get nearer to the "finish-line", you should be less critical of those you see just starting out across from you on the path.
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