1 Corinthians 9:16 (The Message)
If I proclaim the Message, it’s not to get something out of it for myself. I’m compelled to do it and doomed if I don’t!
A Word of Hope
Paul the Apostle found himself in a prickly situation with the early Christian Church in Corinth as recounted in today’s assigned reading 1 Corinthians 9: 1 -16. If you have ever awkwardly asked your boss for a raise you will understand the fix Paul was in. He had to ask the church to pay him even a small salary – he was working for free!
With sweaty palms but a steely tone Paul had all his arguments memorized. He worked hard, he got results, he was unequally treated. After all, even the gardener gets to eat the vegetables he grows. It is a compelling case.
But it must have been the artful lawyer in him because Paul, after laying out a logical argument, turned the entire discussion inside out and upside down: “Go ahead, don’t pay me, I’ll work for nothing. I don’t do it for the money anyway, I do it because I am compelled. The love of Jesus, the vision of inclusion, equality, justice, and mercy make it impossible for me not to do this work.”
Paul’s priorities were clear. Even more important than making a living was changing the world into the vision Jesus had shown him on the road to Damascus. No matter the consequences, he could do nothing else.
Don’t worry, I am not suggesting we all work for free. (Our pastors just heaved a sigh of relief.) However, over the months of this pandemic I have been forced to rethink some priorities. Indeed, what am I willing to give up to create a better world? Would I give up my salary? Too big an ask? What am I willing to give up to create a better city, a better neighborhood? A better church? A better relationship with those close to me? What would I give up to recreate Jesus’ vision in even a small way?
Fortunately, I don’t have to give up my salary to make a difference. But I do have to reprioritize a few things. Maybe give up some things I really like. I don’t expect Paul to feel sorry for me.
God of my being. Remind me today of my priorities.