14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish (Romans 1).
Paul considered himself a debtor, one who is under obligation. This Hebrew of Hebrews owed both Greeks (those thinking themselves wise and philosophical culture), as well as the barbarians (all the rest: those who were foolish and unsophisticated compared to the Greeks). To any Greek person, these foolish barbarians also included the Jews.
This is why — even though his target group was indeed the Gentiles — he still felt an obligation toward his own people, the Jews. This is why, while on any missionary excursion, his first stop when coming to any new city was always the local synagogue.
But, more importantly, this verse shows that Paul had come to view his own people through the eyes of those He was trying to reach — and, as they did, group them (including himself) along with all the other foolish barbarians.
Now, am I willing to see myself and my faith through the eyes of those I am trying to reach? Can I humble myself in such a way, or are my defenses always up? The truth is, my evangelism will always be full of pride unless I am willing to see humble myself and see myself through their eyes. This is part of what the incarnation is all about. Jesus became a man so that He, as a man, could see God (Himself) through the eyes of a man — and yet, He always saw God rightly. And He calls us to this same incarnational ministry: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
Lord, rid us of all pride in our evangelistic efforts — that at least on This Day we do not see ourselves as being any better than those with whom we are sharing the gospel. May St. John’s always be known for our humble evangelism. Amen.