June 16, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Examples to All Believers Today
“so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”
1 Thessalonians 1:7
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We saw yesterday that Paul and his friends set positive examples of Jesus. In turn, the Thessalonians began to imitate Jesus. Now we see that the Thessalonians had gained a reputation as true examples of Christian living.
One time I learned about a lawyer charged with acting improperly in an adoption proceeding. The other lawyer attacked her in court, but the judge ruled that the lawyer had done nothing wrong. Outside of court, the accusing lawyer went up to the other lawyer he just attacked for about a half an hour and said it was nothing personal. The accused lawyer declined to shake hands, obviously because it was entirely an attack upon the person and reputation of the lawyer. Reputation makes a big difference because people get to know who you are. The Thessalonians had a great reputation, because they were full of the joy of the Holy Spirit and walked in His power. They had received the Gospel of Jesus Christ with full conviction. People really notice when you live in joy and power.
Paul used the words “so that” to begin 1 Thessalonians 1:7. One important goal of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to make disciples of the nations, teaching them to observe all that Jesus has commanded us (Matthew 28:19-20). We form strong relationships in Jesus when we all become imitators of Him. Our example influences the example of the other believers and together we become better imitators of Jesus. Our fidelity to His teaching binds us together as friends in Christ. Christ forms the center of our relationship with each other. We reflect His joy and glory in our lives.
I know of a church congregation that has one group that meets inside at 11:00 a.m. and another group that meets on the lawn of the church building at 11:00 a.m. The two groups also have a lawsuit in circuit court against each other. What kind of example does that set for the whole community? Your community will get to know you, but what will they think about Jesus based upon your conduct? Paul said that the Thessalonians had a great reputation, even with geographical regions that were traditionally the enemies of each other. So, all kinds of people from all over the region had a great impression of the Thessalonians.
Application for Today
Today, I am going to thank God for the believers I know who have a great reputation for following Christ. I will give serious attention to making Jesus the center of my life, and my friendships with other believers. As Jesus becomes more and more the center of my life and activities, then the Holy Spirit will produce greater joy and unity with other faithful believers in my life. Who will other people see in your life today?