You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 NIV
I was given a new keypad code recently to unlock doors at the church. The administrator told me, “all you have to do is key in your code and the door will unlock.” I said, “I know it sounds easy, but I would really appreciate it if you walked over to the keypad and showed me. I do really well after watching.” We went to the door and he showed me the green light and we listened for the door latch after keying in my code. I was set.
Paul only spent 6 weeks to maybe 3 months in the city of Thessalonica to see converts come to Christianity and establish a small church. The shortness of his stay was due to incredible persecution from the Jews and other Gentiles. These new followers of Jesus received the message of Jesus when it was not easy. But they had Paul and his associates to mimic. Their church took root by following their example.
Imitate in the verse is the greek work mimétés. From HELPS word studies – 3402 mimētḗs (the root of the English term, mimic, “one who imitates, emulates”) – properly, the positive imitation that arises by admiring the pattern set by someone worthy of emulation, i.e. a mentor setting a proper example.
When thinking of imitating, there is a twofold analysis to explore today which includes a look back and a look forward.
- Looking Backward
- Who first shared the good news of Jesus with you and how did they do it?
- Who trained you to share the gospel so that you can do it for others?
- Who exemplified walking in the Spirit and how to filled with His presence again and again?
- Who taught you how to read the Bible for spiritual nourishment?
- Who modeled spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit so that you understood how to incorporate them into your life?
- Which men or women influenced you as an example of a godly Christian so that you wanted to be like them?
- Who let you be close enough to them to watch how they messed up and then repented?
- Who taught you how to talk with God so that you knew how to engage in conversations of prayer?
- Looking Forward
- With all of the above questions, who are you teaching and modeling these characteristics? They don’t have to be all for the same person.
- Ask God to give you someone to read and study the Bible together. The same verses have the qualities necessary for baby food and meat.
- Take as many opportunities as you can to incorporate prayer into your daily conversations. People will learn how you lean upon prayer for strength, support, wisdom and guidance; so that they can begin to lean into God for themselves.
- Resist the devil’s lies that you are not qualified to model being a follower of Jesus. When you believed in HIm for salvation, you started wearing the colors for Team Jesus. You already are a witness.
Paul connects suffering and joy with the Christian experience. If you are going through a hard time, lean into the Holy Spirit. He has a joy that operates in the middle of turmoil. Receive it by faith. It is a true inner joy, not just smiles on the outside. However, you can certainly believe that the joy will find a wake to “leak out” to give some away to others.
Being a follower of Jesus is all about imitating and modeling the life of Jesus. The first title for the new followers of Jesus was called “The Way”. The lived what they were preaching. Others took note of the consistency of their messaging. May God bless you today to be a working “model in process”, someone worth imitating.
Blessings Love y’all