My 9th-grade high school band class had quite a variety of people.
Some were dedicated to music, others only passed as musicians if you squinted a little.
I like to think I fell somewhere in the middle. Despite the occasional dying-goose-like squawks, I played the clarinet decently. Not as well as the hardcore music student who sat beside me, of course. But certainly not as badly as the ‘I-only-took-music-because-I-had-to’ student.
All that to say, it got me thinking: If everyone played just like me, how would our band be? Some days, I wished our band could be exactly that. Other days…I was glad my wish didn’t come true.
By the end of the semester, I had settled on being glad everyone didn’t play like me. I certainly didn’t practice as much as I could, or pay attention as I should have. But I was just one of the twelve musicians in my section. My shortfalls didn’t really matter, did they?
1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 says, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”
Are our lives worth imitating? That’s a bit of a scary question. So often, our lives aren’t.
So how do we live in a way that is worth imitating?
IMITATE THE RIGHT PEOPLE
This verse begins by saying, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord”. Those in the Thessalonian Church were imitators of Christ, and of Paul and Timothy. The first step in living an imitation-worthy life is choosing the right people to model your own life after.
Since we are Christians, those we imitate should be Christians too. That isn’t to say that the only people who do great things are Christians, but it is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that we can do things in a manner that pleases God.
Also, while this doesn’t apply to every case, those older than yourself often have a wisdom that you just haven’t gained yet. By imitating those wiser than you are, you can gain some wisdom of your own, and act with a maturity beyond your years.
Those we imitate should also be imitating Christ, as we should be. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Christ is our perfect example. Ephesians 5:1 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Through reading the Bible, prayer, and the help of the Holy Spirit, we can begin to do this.
STAY IN TUNE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
As Christians, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who bears fruit in our lives and makes us acceptable to God. Without the Holy Spirit, our lives can never be worthy of imitation. How do we stay in tune with the Spirit, though?
Reading the Bible regularly is one main way since it’s the Holy Spirit who enables us to understand and apply scripture. By making Bible reading a part of our daily schedule, we can begin to see patterns in what we’re reading and apply the teachings to our lives.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. So, when we see ourselves showing self-control despite frustrating circumstances, or loving those who hate us, we can know it is the Spirit’s work.
Finally, we can pray that we will become more aware of the Spirit.
DO HARD THINGS
We’re rebelutionaries. We know we’re called to do hard things and we may completely agree that expectations on us as young people are lower than they should be. But does it really matter whether we do hard things or not?
If our lives are to be worth imitating, it does matter. Because suddenly, these actions matter on a larger scale. No longer are we just doing hard things because we read a book that told us to, but we’re doing them instead to encourage and inspire those around us to do the same.
As we live in a way that is worth imitating, we can hope that, as the next verse of Thessalonians says, “For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
What changes will you make to your life so it is worthy of imitation?