Thursday, June 26, 2008

Preaching Free of Charge

1 Cor. 9:12-18 (ESV)
If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. [13] Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? [14] In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
[15] But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. [16] For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! [17] For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. [18] What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Paul has the right to be paid for preaching the gospel, but he doesn’t make use of this so that he can preach it free of charge, at least at first. It seems that he did receive some support from congregations in Macedonia. Because of their support he was able to work among the Corinthians free of charge to them. But the Macedonians it seems were so proud of Paul, and filled with love for the Corinthians and the gospel that they supported Paul there. The church still does this sort of thing for missionaries.
Paul doesn’t make use of his right so the Corinthians would understand that the gospel is FREE, you can’t buy or earn forgiveness. It is free. Sometimes this is a necessary message. It would be nice if more pastors could preach free of charge. For most of us though this is impossible. Everyone needs to eat. And preaching the gospel is a full time job.
But many pastors do reach a point where they can. Some pastors relocate in retirement to revitalize small congregations in rural towns, or decaying congregations in the inner city. I had the pleasure of working with one such pastor once. For me, I dream of this. Some day I say. It breaks my heart to pass through towns like Delta, or Duschene, where there isn’t a Lutheran congregation (in my mind that means no congregation worth going to.) My heart goes out to the lost souls in those towns, the people who need true pastoral care. I love it here in Utah. I love the Tooele, and my congregation here. I would love to spend my entire ministry right here. I don’t know if that will be possible. It breaks my heart to think of leaving though. But in the back of my mind it’s always there, that when I retire I would like to plant churches in Utah, in between chukar and grouse hunts, and the occasional fly fishing trip. When the day comes that I can do it free of charge.

1 comment:

Bror Erickson said...

of course another part of me wants to be able to watch T.V. sans advertisements for Seagull books, and deseret. I would also like to watch the news with out a half hour devoted to current happenings in the LDS cult.