Imitators of the Lord
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 (ESV)
Why do we watch what we say when around kids? Typically, because we don’t want them to repeat what we say to whomever they see. They become imitators of our speech and of the way we act. If we use foul language around kids, they will start using the same language. If we talk about someone to kids, they will repeat that sentiment to someone. Kids naturally learn from what they see and imitate it.
This is what Paul is encouraging the believers at the Thessalonian church to do. Paul is encouraging them to look at the attributes of God and the example of the Apostles and do as they do.
This doesn’t mean we can raise people from the dead or perform wonders like they did. Rather, Paul is encouraging them to become a living example to the people around them.
A popular phrase today to use would be “living out the Gospel.” This means that we don’t just accept Christ and all’s well. This means that our faith in Christ causes us to live a different life than those around us. This life should always point people back to Christ as our example.
When people view our lives and listen to our words, they should hear Christ in them. They should hear the conviction, passion, and love for people that Christ and the Apostles had. They should see truth and justice done in our lives. They should experience the grace that God gives through our lives.
If those who do not know Christ see us and can’t tell that we are Christians, then something is wrong. Just as the people who saw Christ knew he was different, so should others know we are different. Just as people saw the Apostles and saw Christ, so should others see us.
This doesn’t mean that we no longer share the Gospel with people. On the contrary. Our lives should exemplify the Gospel and show that what we say is true.
This week, take a look at your life. Are you a living example of Christ to those around you? If not, pray to God that he would cause your life to become a shining example of the Gospel to the world around you.