“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 NRSV).
The church in Thessalonica received a good review from Paul, Silvanus and Timothy for their adoption of the gospel through the Holy Spirit and their imitation of the Lord. Paul goes on to say to them, “For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known…” I’m beginning to feel a little challenged in my ability to imitate the Lord.
This would be the greatest compliment that you could receive; that you are an imitator of the Lord. What an epitaph – “Here rests an imitator of Jesus.” The Thessalonians had “…turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead,” says Paul.
Our imitating Jesus must not be selective. The popular phrase and question, “What would Jesus do?” is sometimes conveniently asked when one thinks it will be of benefit in a certain situation. We must seek to imitate Him in all that we do.
The evil one is always out there seeking to undermine our walk with the Lord. Being an imitator of Christ will guard against the great intimidator, Satan. Our imitation of the Lord must be intentional and continual, and that should be our ideal. Our challenge is to shift the balance from part-time to full-time imitating. How do we do this?
We must be in a Christian community for guidance and support. We must adopt a daily plan of spiritual nourishment through study, prayer and meditation on scripture. As we do this, we can begin to imitate Him, sounding forth His Word, and like the Thessalonians, our faith in God will become known to those we touch.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.