Kyle Evans had taught Sunday school for twenty years. Over that time he had built relationships with hundreds of sixth and seventh graders. They loved him. Kyle respected his students and treated them like young adults. He was interested in what was happening in their lives and listened to them as they told him about their boyfriends, girlfriends, cars and sports. In those relationships Kyle taught stories about Jesus, helped this students understand the Bible a little better and shared is faith. The people of his congregation came together to celebrate Kyle’s twenty years of service. Person after person came to the microphone to share how Kyle had served as a role model for them, impacted their lives and was one of the reasons they were disciples of Jesus.
The Christians at Thessalonica were role models to the surrounding Christian communities in Macedonia and Achaia. Those people had seen the Thessalonians live out their faith in the midst of persecution. They had witnessed the changes in the lives of the Thessalonians that the gospel of Jesus Christ had made. The examples of the Thessalonians had made an impact on the lives of the Christians around them. Faith had been strengthened and commitment deepened.
The Thessalonians might have been surprised when Paul shared this piece of information with them. They hadn’t intentionally set about being role models for others. Paul’s observation is a reminder to all of us that people are watching us. The people around us are looking to see if our walk matches our talk. We don’t have to be pioneers of the faith or Sunday school teachers in order to affect other people’s lives. We do this by being active members of a Christian community. May we live our lives so that when people see us they understand what it means to be disciples of Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.