Summary: The importance of being a model of the Christian life to other believers.
There was a young man who showed up for church on Easter and as he was leaving, he shook hands with the pastor at the door of the church. The pastor said, “Son, you need to join the army of the Lord.”
The man said, “Reverend, I’m already in the army of the Lord.”
The pastor said, “Then why do you only show up on Christmas and Easter?”
The young man said, “I’m in the secret service.”
God isn’t looking for people who will be secret believers. Someone said there is no such thing as a secret believer. Either the secret will destroy the belief or the belief will destroy the secret.
Paul wrote his first letter to the believers at Thessalonica and he commended them for being a model to other believers. In this message I want to talk about living the life of a model.
Living in a home with one wife and two daughters required me to have my own television set. They weren’t interested in ESPN and I wasn’t interested in their programs. Even when my daughters were grown and married they tended to watch the same shows. One of their favorites was Project Runway. When Jenni was in Missouri doing her residency and Laura Grace was in Norman in graduate school, they would call and talk about the latest episodes. Now I can honestly say I’ve never seen one episode of Project Runway, but I’ve been told that it’s a reality show about fashion designers and models hoping to get a break and make it in the fashion industry. The designers make dresses out of unusual materials like duct tape.
These aspiring designers and models want to become professionals. I can only imagine how tough it might be to live the life of a fashion model. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a fashion model to live a life of a model. In this passage Paul writes about the importance of being a model of the Christian life to other believers.
1 Thessalonians 1:6-10. “You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”
In Acts 16 Paul visited Philippi. The significance of this was that this was the first European city where he preached. Until this time, he had been preaching in Asia Minor. In Philippi, Paul and Silas were arrested and beaten, but God delivered them from jail in the middle of the night. That’s where the Roman soldier in charge asked Paul, “Sir, what must I do to be saved?” Paul said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:31).
From there, Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica, which was the second European city where they preached. Acts 17 tells us Paul preached there for only three weeks and many of the prominent Jews and Gentiles became believers. However, there was a group of Jews who opposed Paul and whipped up a mob to incite a riot.
They accused Paul and Silas of being heretics who were “turning the world upside down.” That’s an amazing accusation. There are people who live their entire lives and never have much of an impact on the world. And here was a couple of Christians who were accused of turning the world upside down. I think they got it backwards. The world without Christ is upside down, and as followers of Jesus, we’re turning it right side up!
Paul later sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to encourage and help the young church. When Paul wrote this letter them, they already had a great reputation among the churches in Asia Minor and Europe. They were model believers. Paul wrote: “You became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith has become known everywhere.”
The word “model” comes from the Greek word tupos, from which we get our English word “type.” Another way to ask this question would be, “What TYPE of Christian are you?”
Of course, our primary role model is Jesus. But our lives should serve as a model to other believers. Let’s look at four different ways that we should model the Christian life to others.