Paul, Silas, and Timothy exhort the Christians in Thessalonica to imitate their behavior. The point that these ministers of the gospel make is that even though they have dedicated their time and energy to spreading the gospel message, they have also toiled and labored with their hands in order to ensure that they were not a burden to the very people to whom they came to enlighten about salvation. Paul, Silas, and Timothy have presented themselves to the wider Church as persons to be imitated. This in itself is very encouraging for it challenges us to understand that the ordinary persons we consider ourselves to be can achieve extraordinary things when we truly place our lives in God’s hands for him to do as he pleases. These men of God were genuinely concerned about becoming a burden to the very people they had come to evangelise. So any behavior from members of the Church that did not reflect the values they were living out among the Christians in Thessalonica had to be shunned. Paul went as far as to write that anyone who did not work should not eat since such persons, while capable of working, chose rather to be busy bodies and gossipers, living in idleness or, one may say, being professional limers.
The imitation of Christ is the concern of the second scripture reading from 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. We are never to think that we are too ordinary to do extraordinary things for God. For want of a better expression a Christian is a copy cat. Ephesians 5:1 urges us to be imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love as Christ loved us. In 1 Cor. 11:1, Paul writes, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Paul is confident in asking the Christians to follow his example because he knew that his lifestyle was an imitation of Christ. This is the goal we are called upon in our time to strive towards; become such imitators of Christ to the point that we can confidently encourage others to look at our example knowing that it is Christ in us that will be seen. In a world that seems to be growing with a multitude of challenges some Christians can become overwhelmed with the question of whether or not the Church can adequately respond to all of them. The social challenge that Paul, Silas, and Timothy face carries the same temptation like any and every other challenge, “...do not be weary in doing what is right.” (2 Thess. 3:13) Herein lies the connection and the deep challenge of Paul our brother. To become weary in doing what is right is to stop imitating Christ; when we no longer do what is right and pleasing in the eyes of God we are not imitating Christ. The lazy who refuse to work and the busybodies meddling in other people’s affairs are very irritating to the body of Christ as a grain of sand
is to the eyes. We are to understand brothers and sisters that the multitude of problems and the diversity of such problems ultimately work towards stopping us from imitating Christ, which is in fact to grow weary in doing what is right. Can we therefore now pause and do some introspection? Why do we no longer engage in some of the good works we have previously been doing? Do we believe we can continue to imitate Christ and not continue in our good works? What are the specific issues that de-motivate us and dull our spirits? Have we grown weary of doing what is right and convinced ourselves that we just need a break? There is nothing new under the sun brothers and sisters. In the face of every challenge we have a choice of ceasing from our good works or of imitating Christ. My prayer is that we keep the eternal love and presence of God before us and refuse to become weary in doing what is right.