For when we brought you the Good News,
it was not only with words but also with power,
for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance
that what we said was true
1 Thessalonians 1:5
Back in our hippie days, we lived in an apartment building in Richmond, Virginia for a few months. We rented a section of the basement that had been converted into living quarters. Large and small plumbing and heating pipes ran through our apartment. We were hippies trying to become house painters, so we painted the pipes various bright colors.
A married couple, perhaps in their thirties lived in one of the other apartments. I sometimes visited them, trying to convert them to my ideas about Eastern religions and vegetarian diets.
The husband listened patiently to my ramblings. One night I think he had enough. He kindly said, “Do something for ten years. Come back and tell me how it’s working and I’ll be ready to listen.”
Wow, did he ever put me in my place! It felt like a punch in the gut, yet I knew he was right. I took his advice and set out to find something that would work for at least ten years.
I tried many things. Religions, philosophies, diets, theories, drugs, sex, and music. Whatever I tried, I’d follow that trail to see if it led to a good life. Each path hit a dead end. I felt hopelessly lost.
Then I wandered into a rural Christian community, and I saw something I’d never seen before. They lived stable, successful lives, surrounded by close, loving families. They had a way of life that worked for them more than ten years.
I knew they had something I wanted.
When Paul came to Thessalonica, he brought a message of hope. There probably were many snake oil salesmen, politicians, and peddlers wandering around selling their Messages of Hope. Now here comes Paul. At first, he may have sounded like the other salesmen and politicians who brought messages they weren’t living themselves.
Something was different about Paul. He lived what he taught. It showed in his everyday life. He wasn’t trying to sell this message for his own profit, but to help others live a good life. Something deep inside some of them whispered Yes, this is what we’ve been looking for.
A few years after that night in my neighbor’s apartment, I met Jesus. I gave my life to him, and he continues to surprise me with this way of life that really works.
It’s been more than forty-two years…
Sometimes I wonder about that couple. I’d like to thank the husband for setting me straight. And I wonder what they found.