Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader

I remember a game I played as a child, but I am not sure what it was called. I think it was called “Follow the Leader,” where one child became the leader and whatever he did had to be exactly duplicated in all those other children who were following the leader. If he jumped, they jumped. If he turned in a circle, they turned in a circle. If he walked backwards, they walked backwards. If he did all three in an immediate sequence, they did all three.

There is serious application of this game in the lives of those early Christians. Paul came to Thessalonica as part of the “Macedonian Call” and went first to Philippi and then to Thessalonica. He was only there three weeks before tremendous persecution forced him to leave. He came back there often for several years. In his first letter to that church, Paul spoke of what had happened as the church began. “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6).

For the first time, these people in Macedonia met a follower of Jesus. He taught them, and they saw the way he lived what he taught. They followed him. They had worshiped images made by the hands of mortals which were embellished with gold and precious stones. Paul taught them about the One who created these very stones, and they “…turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9). What they had seen and heard from the apostle caused them to follow him. Look at verse 6 again. They followed Paul, but he taught them more. They became followers of Paul and “of the Lord.” The apostle diverted their focus from him and focused it on the Lord, the One who really matters.

The Greek word for “follower” (mimos) became a word we commonly use today. They saw the folly of idolatry and began to “mimic” Paul and Jesus. Paul was not seeking to become an iconic apostolic hero. He taught them what he taught those in Corinth. “Imitate (mimos) me just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). He is the One to follow!

Paul described the lives of these new Christians in this way. “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 2:14). I will never forget how this verse was taught to the people of Easter Island. Josh Blackmer said, “We have come to this island to ask the people to become followers of ‘churches of God which are in’ the Bible. The Bible describes that church, and Jesus wants us to read about it and be followers of the Lord as seen in that church.” Read about the Lord. Then become one who mimics the One who really matters!



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