“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well.”1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (NIV)
The phrase, “so we cared for you,” signifies affection toward another. The Apostle Paul felt this in a way that he would have laid down his life for the people he is writing to. The Message version translates it this way:
Even though we had some standing as Christ’s apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. We weren’t standoffish with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.”1 Thessalonians 2:6-8 (The Message)
When I first heard this verse as a freshman in Young Life leader training, I was moved by how Paul talked about his friends, how he deeply longed and cared for these people. He was not there for an agenda, but taking his friends “as they were,” longing for his friends to know the grace of God more.
This describes how I felt about my sorority sisters while in college. I deeply loved them and so badly wanted them to know the light of Jesus. If need be, I would lay my life down if it meant they could know who Jesus was. At times, it felt like I was. It would have been easier to live in the Young Life house with Christians who would encourage me, but instead, I choose to live with these “sisters” who did not know Christ.
As a Young Life College leader, we have the opportunity to walk through a unique part of life with people in the sweetest way, as their friends. Yes, as their leader, but also as their friend. Paul gives us a great example of how he loved and served those around him. Whether you’re in a class with people, in a sorority, or a part of the Harry Potter club on campus, we get to live life with people. We get to go in spaces where a “Young Life kid” would never be and be the light of Jesus. We get to go to the frat party and drive everyone home to make sure they get home safe. We get to stay up doing group projects until midnight and show our group members what it means to show grace and mercy when people don’t do their part. We get to be the friend in class that someone calls because they know we will listen. We get to be consistent friends when everyone else seems flaky. WHAT A GIFT!
In the most unpredictable year be encouraged by the sweet gift of sharing your lives and the gospel with your college friends. Just as Paul did in the early church, and just as Jesus did with his twelve closest friends.