I like to think I can find my way anywhere without a map, but my family will testify that it simply is not true. Some years ago, a member of my congregation had surgery out of state in order for them to recover in home of their daughter. They lived in a huge subdivision in a large metropolitan area. I had their address and the general area of their subdivision in my mind, and was convinced that I could simply drive directly to their home an visit this member as they recuperated out of town. I did manage to find the entrance to their subdivision, but I continued to get lost and turned around inside the subdivision no matter how hard I tried.
After an hour, I accidently found myself at the entrance once again. Breaking all the ‘man rules’ I called for help. When I explained to the daughter where I was, she said “What there and let me come to you. You‘ll never find us otherwise.” It wasn‘t long before she pulled up next to my vehicle, and simply said “follow me.” Ten minutes later I was sitting by the bed praying with her mother. When it was time to go, I was able to find my way out without any help. Two weeks later I was even able to drive directly to their home for another visit without any help. But I had to follow someone first.
Paul wrote, “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)” Paul is reminding us that ministry takes place in the world. If we are truly going to ‘Make Christ known’ around us…then we have to take Christ to them. Too often we want to wait for someone to ask for help, or come to us (often looking like us) before we help. Paul‘s words remind us that our faith calls for us to be active not passive participants.
Sometimes we simply need to stop what we‘re doing and go meet someone where they are so that they can follow us to where they need (and want) to be. Life can be a lonely road, especially if you feel like you have to walk it by your self. If we live so that others can follow the right path with us, no one will need to be alone.