You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7.
People are watching. That’s one of the most urgent reasons why we should walk the walk and talk the talk. It’s also one of the things I really stink at doing. If you don’t walk the walk and talk the talk, people quickly notice because people are always watching. People are quick to find out if you’re a fraud or a hypocrite.
Have you ever had to learn to do something strictly by rote? There’s a reason. And have you ever had to watch what you say around kids? Kids who are learning to talk will imitate what adults say. They are always watching. And what about the jackals of the press? Sure, a free and independent media is crucial to keeping government within its boundaries but it seems like the American press is everywhere these days and reporting EVERYTHING, fact and fiction alike. What’s more, we the people enthusiastically gobble up what they feed us.
It’s because we’re watching. We’re watching each other and learning to imitate what we hear, see and do.
Paul praised the church members in Thessalonica for imitating the behavior he and his companions exhibited. What was that behavior? Loving on each other; forgiveness; understanding; patience; forbearance; self-discipline; empathy and caring; you know, the behaviors Jesus demonstrated. These new believers acted the way they saw their ‘prophets’ acting and, in doing so, led a revolution around them. It was how the church spread so quickly, not by the sword (as happened later with Islam) but by the conduct of these Jesus followers. And it did indeed spread quickly, in a generation growing from 12 frightened commoners in Jerusalem to millions of followers through Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, north Africa, and up into southern Europe.
Because people were watching.
Got skin, got sin. We are always works in progress, but there’s always work to be done on this matter. Folks who don’t believe are watching us for signs of our hypocrisy, whether it’s foul language, philandering, dishonesty, or what we post on social media. I’m so guilty of messing up in all these areas; how about you? Do you ever wonder if unbelievers are actually watching, though, more for reasons to believe instead of just how to trip us up? We mustn’t let them down. If, like me, you think you’re guilty of not walking the walk, chances are you are. The solution, then, is to go back to basics and imitate Paul, Silas, and Timothy. They imitated Jesus.
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 4:16, Acts 17:5-10, 2 Corinthians 6:10, 1 Timothy 4:12, Acts 16:9, Acts 18:12, 1 Thessalonians 8-10.
Lord, please forgive me when I fail you by not living what I believe. Help me to do better today.