Monday, June 21, 2010
Witness in Daily Life: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
*Blogger's note- This is the first in a series of summer lessons I am writing for Adult Bible Study Online, a Faith and Life Resource. This lesson can be found at: http://www.faithandliferesources.org/curriculum/abs/abs100606.html
As an artist I have a drawing table where I sit each day and do my work. My 6 year old grandson, Gavin, likes to watch me draw. He is a budding artist himself. One day he gathered up his clipboard of paper, stack of colored pencils, grabbed a wooden TV tray and set up his drawing table right behind me. The sight of him sitting right behind me drawing reminded me of how much he imitates what I do and the responsibility I have to provide a good example for him.
In probably one of the earliest written books of the New Testament the apostle Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they “became imitators of us and the Lord” (1:6). Long before the “imitation of Christ” (imitation Christi) became practically synonymous with the monastic devotional book by Thomas á Kempis, Paul encouraged Christians to imitate Christ and himself. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ,” Paul admonished (1 Cor. 11:1). Model your lives after Christ and those who seek to reflect the life of Christ in their own.
We all learn first by imitation. Artists, like my grandson, learn by copying artists. Novice musicians imitate masters. Everyone learns first by imitating others until they become models themselves. The Thessalonian church had become a model or witness to other Christians in their world.
In our increasingly secular, postmodern society in which the credibility of Christianity has been marred by scandals, bad examples, divisiveness, exclusiveness, violence, oppression, racism, bigotry, and xenophobia, there is a desperate need for authentic models of the Christianity as individuals and faith communities. Granted, we cannot simply repeat what Christ or even what his followers did in their time. But, when we model the kind of life Christ lived, or live in the spirit of Christ in our own world and time, we will be a witness to Christ through our lives to those around us.