1 Cor. 9:19-27 NLT
19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.
22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
In our western, especially American, cultures we have built a society upon perceptions of rights. We have also built upon perceptions of might. There is the constant struggle for rights-- my rights, human rights, women's rights, children's rights, even animal rights. It seems that whatever source of power is in place there is an advocacy group opposing it because of some perceptions or another about rights. People have such an obsession with rights.
Paul, here, makes the point that he has rights as well. His rights were being denied by political opponents in the Corinthian congregation, so Paul was clarifying. On the other hand, Paul was equally quick to point out that he had never demanded his 'rights.' Instead, he went to them to serve? Why? Because Christ, our Lord and Master, the King of all creation, came to serve and we are made over into His image, of course. Even though Paul was, by his station, education, and calling by God, entitled to certain prerogatives, he declined to claim them when among the Corinthians. Instead he worked to meet their needs. The prize in the race Paul ran was not given by the Corinthians, it is given by God to the runners who are-- as was Jesus-- servants of all.
For this reason the message of Christ was spread across the face of the world throughout modern history. For this reason it has spread back to its originating continents and countries. The Christ followers in the Church--The Body of the Lord-- are responding to become His slave and the servants to the world. They are surrendering their personal rights and prerogatives, cashing in their personal hard-earned resources, and investing them into the work of the Kingdom of God. They live for God's will not for retirement benefits and the glories of renown. They are in the race straining toward the eternal prize. Are you?
Your servant in Christ's Calling