Saturday, Apr. 25
The Thessalonians imitated Paul, Silas and Timothy. 1 Thes. 1:6. They also imitated the Lord (same verse). They also imitated the Judean churches. 1 Thes. 2:14. In what specific ways did they imitate Christ and others? Paul mentioned several things: work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, endurance inspired by hope (1:3), preaching the gospel throughout Macedonia and Achaia, and faith in God (1:8). But there is another element in common—persecution. The Thessalonians had to respond to the persecution. The core issue in persecution is the unfairness of it. Peter addresses this in 1 Peter 2:18-21. Some suffering is earned and deserved. That is not persecution. Suffering unfairly is the issue. Peter says what we are called to suffer unjustly, that Jesus is our example, and that we are to follow (imitate) Him. There can be no better role model than Christ. He carried all the sins of all men on the cross, resulting in His separation from the Father, probably the most agonizing moment of all time. Jesus experienced that so that we won’t have to. But since we are called to persecution, it should be expected, and it should be joyfully received—in order to demonstrate our love for the One who redeemed us. The Thessalonians witnessed first hand the mistreatment of Paul and Silas. They saw the way the Apostles responded. They knew that Paul and Silas were imitating Christ. They also knew how the churches of Judea were persecuted by the Jews and how those churches responded. They saw how the Gentile churches responded to persecution by their own countrymen. And when they became imitators, they also experienced persecution—and embraced it. This is what Paul is getting at here. Christians have been imitating Christ for centuries or I wouldn’t be writing this blog and you wouldn’t be reading it!