Pause

Take a deep breath right now.

Notice one thing you see,

one thing you hear,

one thing your body is touching.

You are here in this place. God is here with you, too.

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Listen

Brothers and sisters, you are loved by God, and we know that he has chosen you. 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. 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.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-6

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Think

You are loved by God, chosen, and empowered by the Holy Spirit! Wow! What encouragement Paul is giving to the Thessalonians!

Even with such accolades, we have to remember that next part: And you are becoming imitators of the Lord. “Becoming imitators” means doing what the Lord does. It is precisely because we are loved by God and empowered by the Spirit that we must demonstrate that we are called.

Sometimes it’s easy to see when people are imitating Jesus: they proclaim good news to the poor, help free those who are oppressed or held captive, welcome the immigrant, feed the hungry. Likewise, it’s also easy to see when people are not imitating Jesus: they celebrate the use of force or violence, don’t help the oppressed or poor, or create division instead of mending relationships.

If you aren’t sure if someone’s or your own actions are imitating Jesus, you can read more in the Bible about what Jesus said and did. Or, you can ask a trusted Christian for help: “Would Jesus do that?” or, better yet, “Am I imitating Jesus?”

Erin Spengeman Hutchison

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Pray

God, I want to imitate Jesus. Sometimes that is easy, and sometimes it is hard. Thank you for loving me, calling me, and giving the Spirit to help me. Amen.

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Go

As you go, remember that God is with you and with those who do justice.

Dare to be with God, too.

Erin Spengeman Hutchison

Rev. Erin Spengeman Hutchison is a Baptist pastor and has worked with youth for nearly 20 years. She loves to preach, laugh, and listen to Bruce Springsteen. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and has a super cool husband, two awesome kids, and a crazy dog named Cricket.

Bid All Our Sad Divisions Cease

Nathan Hanson

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