How am I called to live. This is a question that I struggle with often in my life. It is hard to know exactly how one is supposed to live when the answers about right and wrong, good and bad are not always that clear. As people we spend a great deal of time justifying our actions. Especially when we know they are just not really right. Just look to the politicians!
I can honestly say that I love being active, but organized sports never were my thing, with the exception of wrestling I never really excelled in any. But being in a sports oriented family, I was bestowed with the obligation to make my way through every sport. I got out of baseball because I could not hit a ball off the tee; I played soccer for three years and was the backfield dandelion picker. My parents had me try every event in track and field, cross country, football, you name it, and with the exception of wrestling and swimming, most competitive sports eluded me.
While there are times in my life I look back and regret the time I tried all of those sports, I think of how much I learned from those experiences, and how important it was to just try. There is a joke that goes around when the lottery gets high “100% of people who do not play don’t win.” I am not advocating for playing the lottery, but the same thing could be said for life, 100% of those who do not participate in life never really live it.
That brings us to this week’s lesson from 1 Thessalonians 5:11-28. This is parting advice from Paul as to how we are to live fully. Living is about making the most of what we have, trying, risking, and not sitting by. It is interesting that the initial part of this passage is about respecting each other, following the leadership that has been given and listening to one another. With proper respect we begin to build each other up, and when we build each other up we see a great change in our community.
Being the worst on most of those sports teams I saw how when my teams would use my limited coordination to their advantage; we often won, but when I would be picked on or made to feel small, my psychological withdrawal also began to pull down the team and mutually we would lose, and often not in a good way.
With the cornerstone of respect for our leaders and each other we are called to try, but not in a reluctant or callous way, but with enthusiasm and cheerfulness knowing that God is using you for his work.
I think back with fondness on most of the teams I played on; many were even very successful! But I am also glad that I tried, because I learned from those experiences, especially the successful teams, how important everybody was to the success of the whole, and how a good attitude starts with the choice of the individual whether or not they want to be part of the whole and live, or turn to their own wants and isolate themselves from the fullness of life.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen