Posts Tagged ‘win-win’

win winI believe it was Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People who made the attribute of always going for Win-Win a virtue. In many life situations, this principle seems to be a very Christ-like approach. Win-Win seems to avoid a selfish approach to relationships, or dominance for the sake of dominance, or any form of self-gratification at the expense of others.

Sunday, I was reading in Acts 13-14 on the flight home from Europe, thinking about the places Paul went on his missionary journeys and all the mission points Sherrylee and I had visited on our trip. I enjoy his first and second journeys much more now that we have traveled in Turkey and been to some of the same sites, like Perga, Antioch of Pisidia, and especially Attalia , which is current day Antalya, a site where LST has been active for ten years now.

This time, however, as I was reading, I noticed especially how much opposition Paul and Barnabas faced:

  • Cyprus: Elymas (Bar-Jesus) the sorcerer “opposed them”.  Paul calls him a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right,” and then strikes him blind for a season.
  • Pisidian Antioch: Jealous Jews “began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him. Paul and Barnabas answer them boldly, then leave and shake the dust off their feet as a warning to them!
  • Iconium: Paul and Barnabas spoke so effectively(?) that the people of the city were divided. Some plotted to mistreat and stone them, so Paul and Barnabas fled for their lives.
  • Lystra: The apostles decided to do good in the neighborhood, so they healed a lame man which won them more favor than was good because the people tried to worship them as gods—until they were persuaded instead to stone them!

After Derbe, the two missionaries go back through most of these same sites to encourage the disciples with this message:  “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Does this sound like Paul and Barnabas had win-win experiences in their mission efforts?

On one of our stops in Europe we had a conversation with a missionary who was working in a country, not hostile but definitely indifferent to the Savior.  There was little danger of real persecution, but a high likelihood of rejection.

This missionary’s approach was to perform acts of service in the community, to gradually grow relationships with people, and to “wait and see what the Holy Spirit will do with it all.”

First, let me say that I believe that God works and accomplishes his plan even through our weakest efforts and in spite of  our best efforts. God’s sovereignty, however, has never left his people without obedient work to do.

I went away from this meeting thinking to myself: this missionary has built a system of missions where he risks almost nothing.  He is offering no words that can be rejected; he is not risking relationships by calling for repentance; he thinks he is a living testimony, and that he is doing the right thing by waiting on divine intervention.

Or he may have just bought into a conflict-avoidance philosophy of the cultural Christianity, broadly espoused and gladly believed in our society, where tolerance of diversity is the supreme virtue.

I don’t believe we have to imitate Paul’s missionary methods explicitly, but I do see Jesus and all of the early disciples not just making friends, not just avoiding conflict, not just doing good in front of people.  I see ALL of them BOLDLY speaking the words of God to people—and all of them experiencing rejection and conflict as a result.

Yes, they sometimes enjoyed the favor of all the people (Acts 2:47), but the word of God is described as a SWORD—a weapon.

I’m pretty sure Christians can’t win-win the battle without the Sword.

I’m not advocating the return to self-righteous bashing of others. I am advocating a return to boldly and overtly speaking the truth in love.

It’s still true today for all Christians, but some more than others:  “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

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