Summary: Sermon encouraging this church family to give careful attention to the heart we project to non-believers

Showed video here - man on the street interviews about the world's impressions of Christians

We’ll talk about that video in a little bit.

For a few weeks now we’ve been talking about our vision as a church...

Today, I get to wrap this up by talking about making CCC a place that welcomes unchurched people to be part of us here each week. I’ve called it, “Putting our best foot forward, every time!” because the first thing I think of is dating.

Dating isn’t real life, is it? Do you always dress like that? Do you always laugh at every joke? Do you always not order the dessert? Or is it possible that, when we’re dating someone, we’re trying hard to give them a strong impression up front?

It’s scary to my wife that I would say that. Our first date was a double date – a movie – “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.” That’s right. I know how to show a girl a good time! She should have caught on then! Somehow, she stuck around. It’s going to be 30 years this year. She’s still sticking around, but she doesn’t want me to quit trying. She still wants me to impress her.

What if every impression we gave was our best every time? That would be impressive, wouldn’t it? In the Lord’s Church, that’s something that we can shoot for, and I want to suggest how we can get there.

(I. Setting Aside Our Rights)

I want us to just jump straight into the Bible text where we’re going to camp out today.

1 Corinthians 9:1-27 (NIV)

1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don't we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8 Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more?

Paul had rights, didn’t he?

I wonder how many of us here today - who aren’t Apostles, who haven’t repeatedly risked our lives or given up everything we have for Jesus, who have been handed an awful lot of privilege and comfort just because of the time and place we’re living, who are already enjoying those things on a regular basis – I wonder how many of us even then think about what we want in the church and say to ourselves, “I have a right to this. I have a right to what I want. I have a right to be comfortable. I have a right to say how things should be. I’ve been here longer. I have given more money. I have given more time. There are more people like me than the others.”

OK, if that gives you certain “rights” in the Church that belongs to Jesus, let me appeal to your standing, your position, your clout and ask you to consider what you’ll choose to do with it.

Take a close look at what Paul chose…

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. 15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. 16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.

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