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Who do you imitate? 1Thessalonians 1:6

1 Thessalonians 1:6 (NIV) 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.

"You became imitators of us and of the Lord;"
I wish I gave people a life they should imitate. If you were to ask me how I feel about them imitating me, I would say no way.

What do I do that's so bad?
I do not exhibit much faith.
I believe that this attitude comes out of the overbearing religious background of my mother, and having a religious world that expects us all to act Benny Hinn, even though they mock him. Right or wrong the man has a faith in Jesus Christ. If God has a problem with him then God will judge him, not you. I do choose to imitate him.

I do not pray, as I should.
This too is problematic because I living up to man's expectation. What is prayer, but conversation with God. I have these conversations, in my head, all the time. I am aware that scripture tells how and what to pray for, everything, but no, I do not do that.

I get angry, far too often.
In my defense I am so much better than what I was. I use different techniques. I walk away from situations. I choose to keep my mouth shut.

I gratify my flesh.

I no longer feel like I have anything to offer others.
I wrote this soon after one of our bible studies. The angry looks may or not have been directed at me, but in general I felt very unreceived. My perception is that we, as a church body, are so entrenched in legalism that we may never be free and living in love until Jesus comes to get us out of this place. Everyone seems to think that they are a teacher, most make no sense at all, and hastily shove their rules down your throat. I feel that I lay out the options that scripture often presents; hoping that the listener will read it for themselves, use their brain, and find the freedom that is hidden and yet lays out in the open, in scripture. (It is only hidden to those that will not look.)

I find myself withdrawing from people.
This has always been a problem for me, and it is one of my safety mechanisms. My upbringing did not teach me to debate, stand my ground, or have any confidence that what I say has merit. I know that what I say does often have merit, and should be listened to, but say with a work situation, the managers have the say and are guided by the depth of their laziness and lack of creativity.

The other half of this verse is the person who imitates the Lord. We cannot see him and yet we know He loved relentlessly. How do you do that; certainly not in the flesh.

"You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in-spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message..."

We typically imitate our heroes or those that inspire us.
Paul steps into a synagogue, the citadel of rules, and preaches a freedom they had never heard before.
Thessalonians tells us that he preached on three consecutive Sabbaths, and in that time he has given them enough information to live a life worthy of God. This seems like a situation that only God could orchestrate.

When someone or multiples of those in disagreement come against you, you might think that imitating someone would become more difficult.

" welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit."
As I read this I kept seeing it as the message - given by the Holy Spirit. I that had been the case, what a bold statement that would have been; one that takes a tremendous amount of faith. To say this requires that you step completely out of the way, and that borders on the impossible.
God has always understood that human nature and emotion was going to get involved with any message that we put forth. Perhaps God just uses what is available, like donkeys, or He is so in love with us that He honors us by using these broken vessels anyway.

1Corinthians 4:16 Paul urged them to imitate him
1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul tells them to follow his example.
Philippians 3:17 Paul urged them to follow my example.
2Thessalonians 3:9 Paul told them that he made himself a model for them to follow.

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I wrote this in response to a comment. I am including it for your benefit as misconceptions and false teachings run rampant. I rarely talk to anyone who has a firm grasp on what happens after the seven years of wrath. I hope you find this beneficial, and yes, it is long.
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