1 Thessalonians 1:6
6Â 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. 7Â And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8Â The Lordâ€™s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaiaâ€”your faith in God has become known everywhere.
Why do we in America become so preoccupied with our own security and the freedom to pursue individual happiness? Any question of this founding value is tantamount to heresy or hate speech in this country. As believers in a politically engrossed season of elections, let’s not forget that our priorities are part of an alternate kingdom and our allegiance is to a savior that chose the path of the cross. It is my conviction that this path was not simply what Christ chose in our place…to replace our need to walk this path. The whole context of rabbinic leadership in his time was one of imitation. A Rabbi’s disciples (talmiddim) would follow and mimic every action, every word. No, the cross was much more than a grand sacrifice to take our place so we would never have to endure suffering like that. I think it was quite clear as a call to action to his disciples to follow him in this kind of life. Self sacrificing love. Not the pursuit of sacrifice but the pursuit of love…willingness to absorb hate and injustice and respond with love. I’m not comfortable with this statement at all. It rattles me. It’s radical. But let’s look at how it played out in the lives of Jesus’ disciples. They clearly caught the challenge to follow their Lord in the path of the cross. Did they miss his point or understand it perfectly well and we have perhaps missed it?