Imitating the Creator
We are imitators – From infancy to old age, we learn from what we see in others. We influence one another; we evolve as a species by learning how to accurately imitate and adapt from our ancestors. By this collective memory, and applying some creative thinking, we refine age-old processes and teach them to the next generation.
In this week’s sermon, Chris lead us in discovering some of the argumentative tools that Paul utilizes in 1 Thessalonians.
This process can be described by using three M’s:
Paul is making use of the collective memory of the early church - by drawing strongly on 2 deeply ingrained facts in the faithful’s lives.
ONE: Joy is experienced in die context of suffering
TWO: Joy is a Spirit-given gift.
By also referring to his own way of living while amongst the Thessalonians, he motivates them to draw some inspiration from their memory.
Paul puts this way of life up as a mold to imitate – Do what you do! Imitate us, and God! It is not strange that Paul puts himself and the apostles ‘before’ God – It is because they are exactly imitating what they have learned in God,they are a concrete example of emboding the word of God, their way-of-life can be put up as worthy example.
This memory and way of life, then becomes the framework onto which every day of life is being built. It becomes a ‘truth to live by’.
Paul praises them for this: (verse 3):
You have beautiful works produced by faith.
Your labor is prompted by love.
You endure because you hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Thessalonians are cheered on by Paul to keep on going in their difficult situation, this must have been amazing to hear!
LET'S GET INTO IT
It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. - Eugene Ionesco
This text wants us to think about our default position when encountering suffering. We usually look at these times as lesser memories than the ‘good times.’ Yet, as so many heroes of our faith attest to the fact that it is in times of suffering that we are closest to God. Jesus invites us to bear his yoke, and this is ultimately the place where we become free to live, where we can freely imitate and follow him. This is where we can breathe. This is where we can be. Maybe we should include times of hardship into our holistic view of faith – As it is necessary for the tree to go through winter, so it is necessary (and most important) for us to live with hardship. It makes us grow and bloom.
What are current troubles in your life? Personally ? In the world ?
Does these things ever feel like they cloud your outlook on the world?
How can you shift your thought and actions to live freely?
WORD INTO ACTION
When we try to make this practical, it calls us to do three things:
Be joyously thankful.
Be enveloped in the presence of God.
Paul artfully utilizes ‘memory, model, and motto’ in the midst of God. His praise and encouragement flow from God. It describes the faithful as living in and amongst God. It keeps our eyes on God – even when it hurts. Christ is the life-giving gift out of whom we should live.
Every day can be a day for which the crowds of faithful are cheering us onwards! Keep on going you good thing!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Bonhoeffer speaks about imitation in his book ‘Discipleship’. This is most probably his most influential work. If you are up for the challenge, read it, it's magnificent!
A quote from his introduction:
Where will the call to discipleship lead those who follow it? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? We must take this question to him who alone knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.
The social dilemma (Netflix) - This documentary speaks to the shadow side of us imitating and being influenced. A powerful wake-up call!
Forrest Gump (movie launched in 1994) - This film shows a guy that knows how to look life holistically in the eye