Paul’s challenge—and the challenge of the Church of Mission—is to be “all things to all” (1 Corinthians 9:22). The Church is Catholic—universal—and therefore must make its gospel intelligible—and responsive—to the needs and aspirations of people from every nation, language, tribe and tongue. It cannot be Fortress Katolicus, kicking out the impure and pouring boiling oil on those at the gate seeking entry. Rather—like Pope Francis—it must go out into the highways and byways of the world seeking to serve, heal, and save the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame both physically and spiritually.
This means meeting people where they are, not demanding they crawl to us. This is what Jesus himself did and what Paul did as well. He spoke to people, Jew and Gentile alike, on their terms. He ignored what did not matter (for instance, food taboos) and focused on what did: faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to him. He always sacrificed his own wants and desires if they stood in the way of somebody else coming to Christ.