A Proper Exposure of Life

1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

I was thinking how each day of our life is like a photograph and image we want to capture with the right exposure. Ideally we would like to think that life fits within the parameters of our ability to expose it properly. In a proper photographic exposure you want to see all of your highlights, mid tones and shadows falling within the range of your film or digital sensor’s ability to properly expose them. You don’t want your highlights blowing out and losing detail, nor do you want your shadow area going dark and losing the detail of them. You would like to expose all the elements of your subject properly from light to dark. Unfortunately, in the real world, we find ourselves in circumstances where it is very difficult, if not impossible, to expose all elements properly. There are times when the sky is way too bright and the foreground is in deep shadow and the camera is saying I can’t properly expose all of it. What if I could photograph an image that properly exposed for the sky and then took the same image that properly exposed for the deep foreground shadows, put them in a computer and made a third composite image? The composite image would then reveal the proper highlights of the one image and the proper shadow exposure of the other image. What I could not do in the real world I have done in the computer world.
Now some of you are probably thinking well that is nice information, but what does that have to do with spiritual matters? In our world we generally work within what we consider normal areas of behavior, beliefs and practices, but not everyone falls within this spectrum. We sometimes encounter those who are either extreme left or extreme right in their viewpoint, beliefs or behaviors. How do we relate with these people who are outside the range of our proper exposure? Most of the time we probably treat it like we do our cameras. We put it in automatic and let the camera figure it out and whatever the results we consider that the best exposure we could get. In that process precious people and souls are missed and needs are not met. I think what Paul is saying in today’s passage is that he learned to expose for where people were at rather than where he was at. By identifying with people where they are at doesn’t mean that you necessarily embrace their values or beliefs, but you learn to relate God to them from their viewpoint rather than yours. That is where their understanding and reality is. What this means to us is that we have to take the camera out of automatic where things are only exposed from our point of view and relate with where our subject is at. That is the only way we can properly expose them to Christ. It means we have to move out of our comfort zone and our status quo to take on the mindset of where different individuals are at in their thinking and reasoning process, so that we can properly relate and communicate God’s love and salvation to them.
We aren’t always going to get the exposure right, but what about the times we do and someone comes to Christ because we were willing to get out of the box and relate with them where they were? The result could be that they could likewise be able to relate with Christ and His love for them. Are we willing to lay down our rights, reputation and sometimes our dignity to become all things to all men that by any means we may win some to Christ? Sometimes we tend to look down our noses at approaches to sharing the gospel that are not the traditional way of doing it. Maybe we need consider what is needed to get the proper exposure when things are out of our normal range.

Blessings,
#kent

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Friendships

January 8, 2013

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Friendships

Through life many seasons come and go,
In that time many people we get to know.
Through our hearts and lives relationships pass.
Many will fade, but others will last.
Rather we know them for a moment, a season or more,
No matter how long they may be here for.
May their lives be richer for having crossed our path.
May we have spoken words of life that last.
Kent Stuck

When we think back through our lives at all of the people that we’ve known, some we knew as casual acquaintances and others we may have been very close too. As we go through those seasons of life and all of the demographics that change, we see most of those people and know them only for a period of time. Some we will reunite with and many we never will. When we stop to think about the brevity of life then it impacts us how short it is and how important it is never to take our opportunities in our relationships for granted. Just as we have no assurance of tomorrow; we have no assurance that a relationship or friend will be there tomorrow.
One of the things that I get bored with quite quickly is just small talk. A certain amount of it is necessary and useful, but so much of our relationships are spent talking about things that don’t really matter or have any eternal value. As believers we want our conversations to seasoned with the words of life, hope and the things that are eternal. We understand that not all of our friends or acquaintances are at that place, but with Holy Spirit discernment and direction we should endeavor to flavor our conversations with those things that speak to the eternal and the lasting. Our life and our actions are the testimony to who we are and what we represent. Some may be turned off by that, but others will be drawn to us because of it. We are not in this world to please people and by the same token we are not here to recklessly offend them either. I believe God wants us to be sensitive to where people are at in their journey through life and endeavor to meet them where they are at, in love, not just mindful of where we at. Relationships are not just about us. They are about our opportunities to communicate Christ, in His various attributes, to others in a way that they can hear and receive.
The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul’s sole purpose in relating and befriending people was to stain their lives with the blood and the love of Christ, but he used wisdom as to how he could relate with them. So many times Christians have an arrogance, self-righteous and condescending attitude that is demeaning to others that are not like them. That is not the Spirit of Christ, that is a religious spirit. Christ came down and was planted under the earth that He might get under us and lift us up to where He is. ‘He didn’t come to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might have life.’ We are to be like him. He didn’t aspire to gain the approval of the righteous and the religious, he aspired to relate with people where they were at in their lives.
May God grant us the wisdom to have the heart of Jesus and Paul that people would know that when they have been with us, they have been in the presence of Jesus, because Christ is so much a part of who we are in our love and our demeanor. May their lives be richer for having crossed our path. May we have spoken words of life that last.

Blessings,
kent

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