1 Thessalonians 1.6-10

Everyone has a role model or two or even more.  Some times that example is intentional.  At other times it is unintentional, almost accidental.

When we have a dysfunctional family we probably are starving for a healthy model to follow.  Even when we are blessed to enjoy a positive and nurturing family life, we still are surrounded by imperfect people that we mimic.  As human beings we are wired to copy what we see, who is around us or who captures our attention.

Yet, where there is love and family, our imperfections fade away into devotion.  We overlook in others knowing full well that we are ourselves imperfect people.  Somehow in the end good things still come out.  Grace keeps on making its surprising appearances.

The lyrics of Rodney Atkins song “Watching You” tell a story captured in this life dynamic.  Here is a sample of that story:

“Watching You” by Rodney Atkins

Driving through town just my boy and me

With a happy meal in his booster seat

Knowing that he couldn’t have the toy

Till his nuggets were gone

A green traffic light turned straight to red

I hit my brakes and mumbled under my breath

His fries went a flying and his orange drink covered his lap

Well then my four-year old said a four letter word

That started with “s” and I was concerned

So I said son now now where did you learn to talk like that

He said I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool

I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you

And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are

We got cowboy boots and camo pants

Yeah we’re just alike, hey ain’t we dad

I wanna do everything you do

So I’ve been watching you

We got back home and I went to the barn

I bowed my head and I prayed real hard

Said Lord please help me help my stupid self

Then this side of bedtime later that night

Turning on my son’s Scooby Doo nightlight

He crawled out of bed and he got down on his knees

He closed his little eyes, folded his little hands

And spoke to God like he was talking to a friend

And I said son now where’d you learn to pray like that

He said I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool

I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you

And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are

We like fixing things and holding mama’s hand

Yeah we’re just alike, hey ain’t we dad

I wanna do everything you do

So I’ve been watching you

With tears in my eyes I wrapped him in a hug

Said my little bear is growing up

He said but when I’m big I’ll still know what to do

We must follow a pattern that does not allow for an excuse.  While we acknowledge our weaknesses and failings we still press on to live a righteous life by the power of the Spirit.  When we trip and fall, we dust ourselves off, get up and get going again.

With every effort we learn how more and more imitate the good examples in our lives and also mimic that life that Jesus lived.  That template for living leads Paul to commend the Thessalonian believers for becoming the model for others to follow.

Essential in this picture is the product of a life of righteousness that is lived.  It is not just a matter of knowing facts.  Paul did not commend these believers for their scholarship or vast intelligence.  Rather, it was how they lived the life after they understood truth.

Therefore, we don’t need to say anything, 9 for they themselves report[b] what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Words become secondary when a life is displaying how holy living should be done.  It will be the kind of good conversation about the lives of others that should be happening among believers.  If we need to talk about others who not present, then let our conversation be on the great example other people are living for Christ.

Contrast is a part of our lives.  How we lived before Jesus Christ became a part of our lives stands in sharp comparison with how we are living now.  When we see the lives of people in the world striving to achieve what is important to them, our lives that mimic Christ should be markedly different.

What we were like before our redemption should be a marvel in the eyes of those who now see the change in our lives.  Jesus Christ has made a difference in us.  It is not what we claim but how we live.

A significant part of how we live differently is how we treat others.  Hospitality is a natural expression of true faith in Jesus Christ.  It is not about retreating from people and finding a place to welcome Jesus back.  Rather it is a matter of serving the Lord with enthusiasm.

Waiting for Christ’s return is about looking forward to His coming while serving Him on earth.  It is not a static waiting.  Rather it is a life of active service in the present, knowing that His coming will rescue us from the troubles of the coming prophetic future.