“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1.5 NIV).
Having an imitator may not sound like an enjoyable experience. Would we really want someone who behaves like us, mimicking our every move like a reflection of our lives? Every one of us has struggles, and we each have times where we fall short or even fall down. But when Paul tells the members of the Thessalonian Church that they have become “imitators” of him and the Lord, he was specifically pointing to one thing: They have welcomed the message of Jesus Christ with a joy given from the Holy Spirit. We may never be perfect in this life, and we will definitely have our ups and downs, but we can emulate our love of Jesus to the world and the joy that our relationship with Jesus brings us. No matter our hardships and struggles, we carry this joy with us every moment of each day. This joy isn’t dependent on our circumstance, our moods, or the behavior of others. It is based solely on the Good News of Jesus Christ. We may have our personal struggles, but we can share the confidence that this joy brings us—a confidence centered on the excellence of Jesus, not the flaws of our humanity. And, hopefully, the people around us will become imitators of this confidence, emulating the joy we all have in Jesus Christ.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15.13 NIV).