2 We always thank God for all of you when we mention you constantly in our prayers. 3 This is because we remember your work that comes from faith, your effort that comes from love, and your perseverance that comes from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.4 Brothers and sisters, you are loved by God, and we know that he has chosen you. 5 We know this because our good news didn’t come to you just in speech but also with power and the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know as well as we do what kind of people we were when we were with you, which was for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord when you accepted the message that came from the Holy Spirit with joy in spite of great suffering. 7 As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The message about the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place. The news about your faithfulness to God has spread so that we don’t even need to mention it. 9 People tell us about what sort of welcome we had from you and how you turned to God from idols. As a result, you are serving the living and true God, 10 and you are waiting for his Son from heaven. His Son is Jesus, who is the one he raised from the dead and who is the one who will rescue us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, CEB)
I’m often disheartened by the massive number of horrifying stories that clog my news feed. I feel the need to thank God for the handful of heartwarming stories of caring people, much like Paul thanks God for the continued faith and love of the Thessalonians.
The world is constantly in need of more Imitators of Christ, but these people can take any form. Jesus summarized his teachings into a single commandment and called on us to follow it: to love thy neighbor. So, to me, an Imitator of Christ is anyone who acts gracefully with love in their hearts, regardless of their background or faith.
Imitators of Christ can come from anywhere to deliver the grace of the Holy Spirit to those who need it, and for these people I give thanks to God.