My Most Recent Sermon

Well, the audio software crashed 20 minute into my sermon, so all we have is the first third. I hope y’all enjoy it. I sound much more confident, although I was much more nervous about this sermon than any of my others. Money is always difficult to talk about.

The passage that fell to me was 1 Corinthians 9:1-18. The issue is rights and laying them aside for the sake of others. Specifically, Paul has in mind his right as an apostle to receive pay from the Corinthian church, which he has not availed himself of. In this passage Paul asserts that Jesus has commanded churches not to compel their pastors to be bivocational, or work some second job to support theselves. He commands churches to provide their pastors with a living. Paul goes further in by mocking the notion of a bivocational pastor, “Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?” He asserts that a pastor has a right not to be bivocational.

In my sermon I challenged the notion that some churches are too small to support their pastor by pointing out that the alternative is that one man rather than an entire church, however small, support him. If the church will not support him, he must support himself.

I also discussed Paul’s choice not to exercise his right to be paid. This is contrary to the custom in our Western culture in which we fight for our rights and view the ideal society to be the one in which everyone has fought for their rights and won. Give me liberty or give me death. The personal is political. The trouble with this is that when everyone fights for their rights, the weak still lose. Even when the oppressed win, it is because they have become strong and they become the new oppressor. Look at the history of revolution.
Paul’s picture is of a society in which the strong lead by laying aside their rights for the sake of the weak. Husbands lead by laying aside their rights for the sake of their wives. The mature lay aside their rights for the sake of the immature and young. The powerful do not lord their power over the powerless, they lay aside their rights. There is no need for feminism in this society. No need for activism.

We have the supreme example of this in Jesus who, though He upheld the universe by the word of His power, humbled himself to the point of being tortured and killed by those He upheld. For their sakes he died. Death, however was unable to hold him and He rose from it. We for our part are empowered to endure suffering by His resurrection because we are told that those who are united with Him in the likeness of His suffering will also be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection.

We can lay aside our rights because the suffering we endure as a result isn’t worthy to be compared with the glory we gain through it.
Or, download the sermon.

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