2016-05-22 - 1 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ Model Believer
This age often has no real models at all, or the survivor is considered an adequate example, as Rodney Clapp noted in a previous issue of Christianity Today:
“… Former ages admired heroes, women and men who went beyond ordinary human capacities. Ours is an age of constricted expectations: we admire those who simply manage to hang on. This mentality makes existence itself – however bleak, amoral, or godless – the end and goal of life. But as theologian Stanley Hauerwas has said, ‘Christians care little for mere existence; their aim is to learn to live well.’” 1
Models Anyone? How are we “to learn to live well,” if we don’t have or at least recognize our models? Paul apparently was concerned with the issues of models in his day, also. For him, one of the joys of his efforts with the Thessalonians, was that they had become models of the Christian walk. And as models, their lives were noticed by numerous people.
When we look back in the Old Testament, we see that there, God also had His example, the nation Israel. This was one of the reasons God chose them. They were to serve as examples. It was up to them to chose what kind of models they were to be, good or bad. Either way, they would still be models.
“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were over- thrown in the wilderness.
We find in the New Testament, as well, that there are examples given for the fallen world. In fact, as we look at this passage, we will review the examples the Paul identifies. “Who are the models?” But in the final analysis, we need to recognize that we, too, are models. We need to see just what that means, as to our responsibility to live in a way that not only pleases God, but honors Him before others. As we look at Paul’s words,we need to ask ourselves; “What are we modeling?” After all, we are the “model” believers.
We have already seen that the underlying motivation for our walk is grounded in the fact that God, out of His love and mercy, has chosen us for salvation.
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.” (1 Thess. 1:4)
It is this reality that allows us to live with joy in the midst of the circumstances of life. We must never lose sight of who we are and what God has done for us.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6–8).
Our response to this truth should be a walk that is pleasing to God. This was certainly the case for the Thessalonians of whom Paul was able to say,
“… remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.