We’ve been looking at lessons on being adaptable Bible teachers from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. If you haven’t read any of those posts, click on the links below:
While adapting is biblical based on passages like the one we’ve been looking at, it does bring some challenges.
Possible Problems Bible Teachers Need to Avoid as They Seek to Adapt
Sometimes we can begin with the right intentions but over time lose sight of the real purpose behind adapting. Classes then become little more than entertainment or worldly chatter.
Sometimes we can go too far, compromising the truth of God’s Word or losing Christ-like integrity in the process. We become like them instead of winning them to the Lord or establishing them in His Word.
How the Apostle Paul Avoided These Problems when Adapting to Those He Served
Having the right perspective and purpose behind adapting, as seen in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, certainly laid the foundation for avoiding the above mentioned problems. Here are two more takeaways from Paul’s example in being adaptable:
1) He knew where to draw the line. Notice he said “I” adapted, not the message or who God is.
I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Cor. 9:22)
We don’t change God to make Him more palatable for our generation. We don’t make Jesus or God according to our liking. God is who He is as described in the Bible.
The truth, or message, did not change, just how it was presented. All Scripture is inspired and useful (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Who are we to pick and choose what is relevant and what can be disregarded?
2) He kept the focus where it belonged. Paul concluded these thoughts with, “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:23).
We do what we do for the advancement of the Gospel, not for our own sakes, and not even just for the sake of our students. There’s a bigger agenda to which God invites our participation. If we fall prey to compromising the message or losing Christ-like integrity in the process of adapting, we won’t see lives changed. We will be robbing the cross of its power (1 Cor. 1:17-18). However, when we see people come to know Jesus as their Savior, and grow in their relationship with Him, we’re experiencing the power of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16) at work. That’s the real blessing in teaching.