My calendar has columns in which to list what I need to accomplish each day. In my case, a typical day might read as follows: write sermon, make sermon plans, visit the hospitalized, lead Bible study, consult with a staff minister, write pastor’s column. That’s all well and good. Making and checking off such lists helps organize my day.
The trick, though, is not confusing a to-do list with the purpose of each day. It’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring success by counting how many items I check off daily. Surely there’s a greater, overarching purpose to my life as a Christian.
Mark’s lead sentence helps me remember my purpose: The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (v. 1). The first time I read Mark, I expected him to plunge directly into stories or commentary about Jesus. Instead, he references Isaiah’s promise of a messenger sent from God who will prepare the way for Jesus. The messenger is John.
Sometimes I imagine John making a to-do list: eat locusts and wild honey for breakfast, wear the camel-hair suit (don’t forget the leather belt), call sinners to repent, baptize those who respond. By the end of a typical day, John would have worked through all the items on his list.
But I think John knew the difference between the list he checked off and his all-encompassing purpose. Perhaps he defined the point of his life this way: “My purpose is to be the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ for those I encounter.” Everything else he did in a day, he undertook in support of that central reason for his existence.
More and more I find myself hoping that I might be the beginning of the good news of Jesus for someone each day. That’s life purpose enough for me.
Do I approach each day with a sense of overriding purpose? What is my life purpose? Would I consider one similar to John the Baptist’s?
Lord, help me structure this day, and those that follow, with the purpose of being the beginning of someone’s experience of Christ’s good news. Amen.