Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s foundation podcast. Wherever and whenever you find yourself listening today, we do hope you find this resource an encouragement, as we each seek to live out the better life Jesus that has come to bring us.
Our passage for today is Philippians 1: 18b -26. Our focus verse for today is verse 21:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
A question to reflect on as we begin….How do you find purpose? What brings purpose and meaning to our lives?
For some, it’s in being a parent, in bringing up a child and seeing them grow and thrive. For others, it’s tied into their profession be it teaching, nursing, managing a business or perhaps serving others – in retail, in hospitality. Maybe it’s expressed through meeting or responding to a need for example…. caring for the elderly, working with the homeless/ vulnerable people in our communities.
Where and how do we find purpose? It’s an essential question we all end up asking ourselves at some point, perhaps at many different points throughout our life. It’s one of those God questions! Saint Irenaeus (2nd century theologian) is quoted as saying this: that – “The glory of God is the human person fully alive”.
When I think about purpose, I think about those places where we feel most alive. For me, it’s when I’m with my family – as a husband, as a father. It’s also very much in those places where I find myself investing in and engaging with young people. Being in assembly hall, stood in front of a roomful of students trying to present something in such a way which helps them engage with who Jesus is…I can feel the buzz. Those moments, those places where you just know…you’re doing what you were made to do. You are where you are meant to be.
What is that thing or where is that place for you? Paul himself seems to be reflecting on this here as his writes his letter to the Philippians. He writes…
For to me, to live is Christ…
For Paul, life, purpose and meaning is found in the person of Jesus Christ. The one who made it all and then gave it all so that we might truly know what it is to live. In another of Paul’s letter he writes this….For you know the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Paul knew that Jesus had given everything for Him, and that to live was to follow in his footsteps, to serve, to honour and bring God glory. Paul had a very clear sense of purpose. He was to be a herald of the good news about Jesus, primarily to those who’d never heard about him. He was also to be a starter of new communities of faith. For Paul purpose was found in Jesus and in the advancement of his kingdom.
How about us? Where are those places and when do we have those moments when we just know we’re where we are meant to be? Doing what we are called to do? Last year, we engaged with the Grow Project here at STC. In one particular module we considered our ‘Calling’ as disciples – Mick spoke about it last week. In it, there’s a great article by Tim Keller talking about how we discern our calling. He writes about three key factors in discovering this – our affinity – what we are passionate about, our ability/gifting and where we see opportunity. Let me encourage that if this podcast has got you thinking- it’s well worth another read to reflect on this again!
For to me, to live is Christ…
Where we find purpose, we encounter Jesus. Because it’s in those places and in the act of serving other people that we truly come alive. It’s in those places where we truly reflect something of God’s glory. Another quote from that Grow module, this time from St Catherine of Siena – “When we are who we are called to be, we will set the world ablaze.”
To finish, here are some questions to reflect on at the start of this new year…. Where are those places/ those moments where we feel truly alive? Where and who is God calling us to? And how can we continue or begin to use the gifts and skills which God has given us to build his kingdom?
Where and how can we burn brightly for Him?
God, thank you for this day and all that it holds. Thank you for the way in which you have made me – the unique gifts, skills and abilities which you have given me. Help me to discover further my purpose in you this day Jesus. And may I be a blessing and encouragement to all those I live, work with and meet this day. In Jesus name. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Philippians1:18b-26
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.