In 1844 an organization was started in London by George Williams to instill Christian principles into young men. They wanted to develop a healthy “body, mind and spirit.” This organization began to rapidly grow and spread across the world. Do you know who we are talking about? The YMCA.. yes, the Y M C A. Don’t let the song now in your head distract you. Resist the urge to search it and listen to it! Stay with me.
What happened to the YMCA? Well, we have several in the nearby town of Fredericksburg, VA and you may have them in your local town as well. But that is not what I mean. What happened to their original intent to be an organization that was designed to instill CHRISTIAN principles into young men and minister to the them in “body, mind and SPIRIT?” Mission drift. Like many organizations, even church’s and businesses, they lost their way, they lose their original purpose. If we are not careful we can forget our purpose as Christians and live our lives in mission drift. Here are just a few thoughts about living with purpose from 1 Thessalonians 2.
Paul begins this chapter by stating that his coming to them was not in “vain.” In other words, his time with them had great purpose. They became believers in Jesus and were growing in their faith. In the grand scheme of things we all have a very similar purpose, “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Because we believe, that we can glorify Him and enjoy Him in all circumstances of life, we must be looking for those circumstances in which we can give God glory and enjoy Him no matter the context.
Paul reminds us that we need to see God’s purpose in times of suffering and in experiences where we are “spitefully treated.” Romans 8:28 tells us that God uses all of these things to work according to His purposes. Sometimes we see a greater purpose in our suffering when we recognize there is a greater purpose in the gospel. Paul states in verse 4 of 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, “we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel.” Six times in this little letter Paul mentions the “gospel.” Believing, sharing and living out the gospel message of the Scriptures brings enormous glory to God. If we consider our suffering and mistreatment’s as the backdrop or setting of the Gospel, we may actually see the Gospel more clearly, set forth on a beautiful display. Think of a black and white photo of an old house and imagine a skilled photo editor making the front door “pop” with a brilliant red color while the rest of the picture sits in the background in gray, black and white tones. Now imagine how attractive the Gospel looks when it is believed, shared and lived in the life of a follower of Jesus who is experiencing suffering and mistreatment.
The truth is that no matter what our “photo” may look like, the Gospel, when it is believed and lived out will be a beautiful testimony that brings glory to God. So let us stay true to our purpose of bringing God the greatest glory as we find our pleasure in Him and live out the gospel in all imaginable circumstances.