I Corinthians 9: 16-23 (NRSV)
Verse 16If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! Verse 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. Verse 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
Verse 19For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. Verse 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. Verse 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law) so that I might win those outside the law. Verse 22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. Verse 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
Martin Luther famously said, “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” (On Christian Liberty, 1520) In St. Ignace, Michigan, the grave of Father Jacques Marquette, beloved Jesuit-Ignacian missionary to the Huron and Ojibway people, is marked and honored as one who gave witness to Christ in word and affection, affirming about the Native people that ALL are created in the Image of God. Arriving from France, he studied Native languages and culture for two years. In his missionary journeys, he widened the sense of the gospel by including it within the Native understanding of God while proclaiming the Savior Christ. Adjacent to his memorial is a white chapel, converted into a store and museum. Pictures tell the story of the infamous boarding schools where First Nation children were separated from their parents, justified by the mantra of “Kill the Indian. Save the man.” Contrary to Father Marquette, witness and servanthood can be twisted. We are graced and called to give loving, inclusive, Christ-like witness as “servants to ALL.”
Global and inclusive Christ, you have created us as part of humankind. Continue to open us to ALL as witness-servants of inclusive love. Amen.