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Put the Mission First

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Big idea: True maturity is exhibited by prioritizing the mission of Jesus over the rights we deserve.

I. Reaching people with the gospel is worth putting your preferences on the back-burner for (v. 19-23)

A. The mission of Jesus is more important than any brand of Christianity

B. This church is fundamentally a mission organization, right?  We exist to lead our community into becoming worshipers of Jesus Christ.

a. At our best times, we remember that, and we make sure our preferences are ordered.  We say, “I may not choose this type of music,” or whatever, but that at the end of the day the church is not solely about what I want, but about what will help us reach people with the gospel.    

i. Thank you to those who are here who have encouraged me and our leadership team to do what needs to be done to reach out to our community, even if the trappings aren’t what you’d prefer, because you see the mission clearly. 

ii. However, we rob this passage of part of its power if we confine the application only to matters of marginal preference.

a.       For Paul, ethnic identity was the thing that he had spent his entire childhood and early career valuing, being told that was what made him special: he was free (v. 19), he was a Jew (v. 20), he was under the law (v. 21), he was strong (v. 22). 

- Paul was willing to put his most cherished identity markers on the line for the sake of reaching people for Christ.

a. Look at v. 23 for the reason why: for the sake of the gospel, that he may share in its blessings.

- One of the classic examples of this for me is the writer Henri Nouwen.  

C. How do I live out “all things to all men” without losing myself? 

- What do you mean by your self? Do you really find your identity in the quality of living we have?  In the work you do?  In the friends you surround yourself with?  In the hobbies you enjoy? 


II. Case Study – Paul bypasses his right for a pastoral salary in order to reach people in Corinth for Christ (v. 1-18)

-         Paul’s argument for why he deserved pay:

o       He’s an authentic apostle (v. 1-2)

o       Those who are engaged in ministry deserve to be supported (v. 3-7)

o       The law confirms that ministers deserve support from those they serve (v. 8-12)

-         However, Paul knew that accepting a salary would diminish his effectiveness for Jesus’ mission in Corinth (v. 12-18)

- Also, a salary would rob Paul of the chance to offer a gift to God in gratitude for saving him.

o       What would you be willing to change to help someone see the gospel more clearly?

o       What opportunities does your lifestyle give you for being a witness to Christ’s work in your life?


III. Living out a mission-oriented Christian life requires training and maturity (v. 24-26)

-         Corinth was home to the Isthmian Games, where athletes, poets, and musicians trained for years to win the garland wreath (like a gold medal)

o       What are you training for?

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