How (Not) To Save The World
“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”
-1 Corinthians 9:22
When I was in college earning my bachelor's degree in psychology, I did my senior research project on the effects of mimicking and self-monitoring on helping behavior. Self-monitoring is the degree to which a person monitors and adapts their behavior depending on the social context. High self-monitors have more situational awareness, are good at adapting, and are skilled at getting along with others. Low self-monitors are less likely to change their behavior to fit in. They are like the sitcom Grandpa at Thanksgiving dinner. They just say things the way they see them and don’t particularly care if you agree or not. Neither is good nor bad: Just different.
I performed an experiment where a fellow researcher unknowingly mimicked participants. Then they were monitored to see if they would help another student when put in a position to do so. I found a statistical significance that those who were mimicked (especially high self-monitors) were, in fact, more likely to help another student when given a chance. Why is this so?
As humans, we were made in the image of God, and God desires a relationship with all of us. I believe we are naturally inclined to crave relationships with one another for this reason. We are told in Mark 12:30-31 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
One of the reasons God sent His son Jesus down to us so that we could watch Him mimic the actions of His Father. From His example, we can try our best to mimic His example so that we can love others better and help the people around us.
Simple but not easy.
In Hosanna Wong’s latest book, How (Not) To Save the World: The Truth About Revealing God’s Love To the People Right Next To You, she provokes the reader with the question: “Why would anyone believe that the God we serve wants to know them if we don’t even want to know them? How do we share about Jesus, Immanuel, “God with us,” who came to be with them when we don’t even spend time with them? If we are not careful, we will self-righteously aim to save the world and skip knowing the world we claim we want to reach.” Pg 28
There is only one savior, and we are not Jesus.
No matter how hard I mimic Him, I will never actually be Him.
God created me to be me.
This takes off some of the pressure to be perfect.
At least it should.
Jesus spent most of His time on earth mingling with other people. Serving them. Laughing with them. Talking with them. Weeping with them. Getting to know them. Doing life with them on their level.
Hosanna says, “When we see people as projects, we’re doing it wrong. We are not called to save the world. We are called to open doors and sit at tables.” Pg 33
We are called into a relationship with our neighbors not to save them but rather to love others where they are at. Our lives should speak for themselves. People notice we shine differently when we live obedient to Christ and want to mimic us. We don't have to preach about it. We simply live what we believe. Christ is contagious.
We are called to be whomever God made us to be and use our gifts and talents to live our best lives in Christ. Not to impress others. That isn’t the point. People don’t want to be impressed any rate. We all want to be truly known, deep within the depths of our souls. We don’t want to feel like orphans. We want to be seen and heard. We want to be loved.
Hosanna reminds us that we will have to do the hard work of learning the ways and words of the world surrounding us to relate to others in their language. Don't expect people to conform to your "Christian-ese." You wouldn’t speak German to someone who speaks French and expect them to know what you are saying. Likewise, we are called to be all things to all people to share the love of Christ. Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 9:22 when he says, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” This doesn't mean that we always mimic everyone and lose our identity. It means that we stay flexible and learn other people's love language. We accept them for their identity and don't try to change them.
There shouldn’t be pressure on us to save people. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job.
Just be yourself. Be like Christ. Talk about why you love God and what He has done in your life, but don't shove Him down throats or use Him as a weapon. Get to know your neighbors, and don’t place expectations on how God will grow the seeds you plant by just being you.
“Many times your greatest witness will be your with-ness.” -Hosanna Pg 48
My prayer this week is that we all aim to be fully present with the people God has placed in our presence this week. That we stop and take the time to think about how others feel and include them in our plans, so they don’t feel like outsiders. That we become weak when we need to become weak to empathize with others. That we become willing to listen to and relate to people and have hearts open to God. That we strive to save others less, and we get to know them more. This way, some may be saved.
Have a blessed week.