One of the most perplexing incidents in the book of Acts is that of Paul circumcising Timothy directly after the Jerusalem Council that established that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised to be saved. But that is the point, Timothy was circumcised not in order to be saved, but to remove offense to the Jews whom the apostle was attempting to reach with the gospel in proper order (The Jew first and also the Greek). So, Acts 16:3 says,
“Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”Acts 16:3 ESV
Some commentators wrestle with the date of Galatians and this verse, but I find that unhelpful at this point. The real issue is that of being willing to put aside obstacles to see the gospel go forth. This did not mean doing anything sinful to spread the gospel, but only that which was lawful. This did not mean doing something against conscience, but only what was truly beneficial and accepted. Nonetheless in Timothy’s circumcision we see a young man willing to bleed for the gospel to be heard.
By implication this is a great challenge to Christians today. Are we willing to set aside preferences for the sake of spreading the gospel? Are we willing to dress up in order to reach professionals? Are we willing to meet the religious where they are? There is far more example today of dressing down, going to those outside the church, and reaching the outwardly sinful, but what about those who relying on their own good deeds who need the gospel too? The apostle to the Gentiles not only did all to reach the Jews, but prioritized them in his ministry. The Jews may be considered for applicatory purposes not merely ethnic Jews but those well educated in the Bible and in good works. What about them?
The modern church has done everything to reach a sinful culture by lowering its standards in the preaching and singing instead of raising the standard in both by setting aside real preferences that require the minister actually looking religious in order to reach the religious.
It could be argued that everyone is religious (see Acts 17:22), thus how are we reaching the religious?