The Example, Church!

1 Thessalonians 6-7: And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 

How we example to the world our way of living as Christians matters. Our lived example is on public display as individuals, congregations, denominations, and as a local and global ecumenical body of Christ whether we like it or not, are intentional about it, or unintentional. 

My oldest son Aaron shared that his 15-year-old daughter, Karina my granddaughter, calls him out when his actions stray from Christ-like behavior. All she says to him when she observes or hears his actions and words misaligned with the ideals of Christian faith, hope, and love is, “The example, dad! The example.” Meaning, is that the Christ-like example you really want for me to follow? 

Paul’s opening greeting in his letter to the Thessalonians beautifully commends and affirms them for their joy in Christ in spite of persecution and for the Christ-like example they exhibit to all believers in the region. Their example positively influenced and strengthened the faith, love, and hope of other believers. Their life-changing influence made Paul’s pastoral work easier because the foundation of faith and what it meant to live a life of faith was firmly established in the lives of the Macedonian and Achaian Christians because of the joyous, faithful, loving, and hope-filled life exampled by the Thessalonians. 

My granddaughter watches her dad’s actions and hears his words at all times. I do not think she looks to “catch” him. Instead, she expectantly looks to her dad to learn how to live a life that is more joyful, more faithful, more loving, and more hopeful. My son says that he is aware that he does not live in a bubble and that what he does and says affects others, especially his own children. 

Christians do not live in a socially insular bubble; our baptism does not allow for it. To claim we are Christians is to live a private and public life worthy of God who has called us. Such a life carries with it a set of expectations by a watching world that we are a people of joy, of faith, hope, abounding in love, mercy, and justice. The message of the gospel that has come to us, not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction enables us to hold fast to what is good and abstain from harming ourselves and others with our words and actions. 

We are examples to a watching world whether we like it or not, whether or not we are intentional or unintentional about it. Our missional commitment to seek the spiritual and temporal wellbeing of our communities, our nation and our world examples our faith, hope, Christ’s abounding love, mercy and truth. Our call to break down social barriers and see people as people, accepting others who are different than us, is needed today more than ever as a divided and hostile world looks to those that follow Christ and cry out, “The example, church! The example.” 

God’s Abiding Peace – Priceless!

“Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9, New Revised Standard Version)

Inner peace eludes so many today. Billions of dollars are spent every year in efforts to acquire inner peace, and peace of mind. For example, mobile phone users spent $195 million in 2019 on meditation apps. Other ways we try to buy inner peace and peace of mind is through the purchase and use of natural supplements, prescription drugs, security systems, insurance policies, and other risk preventative and safety enhancing goods and services.

A Psychology Today article identifies four types of peace; ease, tranquility, awareness, and the peace of what’s unchanging.[i] Inner peace as a state of ease is achieved when a pressing task is completed, or a problem is resolved, and we don’t have to worry about it any longer. The peace of inner tranquility is a body and mind state of non-reactivity and inner stillness.  Peace of awareness is described as noticing or being aware of trouble all around but not getting inwardly troubled by outward troubles. The fourth type of inner peace, unchanging peace, is a peace that is based on what is reliable, transcendent, and eternal.

The church at Philippi is experiencing the absence of inner peace, calm, and safety. Paul directs the church at Philippi to seek an unchanging peace that is based on God’s unchanging nature of love, mercy, and reliability. He shares how to mature into living in a state of unchanging peace in God even when everything around them was volatile, uncertain, chaotic, ambiguous, and ever changing. He calls upon the church to rejoice in the Lord always, to practice gentleness, humility, prayer, supplication with thanksgiving, and to practice focusing their thoughts on what is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, and commendable. He invites them to learn from his example of life and the inner peace with God he has attained even though he was under house arrest awaiting trial to defend the gospel.

Inner and abiding peace with God is important for our total well-being. God’s inner and abiding peace with us enhances our hope, joy, resiliency, creativity, and outlook on life in the now, for tomorrow, and for eternity. Peace is a gift from God that comes to be “with us” even when the world around us is intimidating. The good news is that God’s unchanging peace is a gift that is accessible and attainable by gaining Christ through faith, knowing Christ, being found in Christ, and becoming like Christ through imitation and the sustaining practices of faith. God’s gift of peace with us is priceless.

Do you have the gift of peace with God with you today? 

Can others clearly notice the peace of God with you as shown forth in your actions, thoughts, and words?  


[i] Hanson, R. (2016, November 09). What Is Your Sense of Peace? Retrieved October 11, 2020, from