“And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Th 1:6).
Besides their enthusiastic reception of the Gospel, the saints in our text excelled in the Lord because they used the key of spiritual emulation. They followed Christ and His ministers. Biblically, following Christ and emulating His envoys are one intricately woven fabric. You cannot receive Christ without receiving His messengers (Mat 10:40). Mimētēs, the term translated follow in our text, actually means to imitate. It’s different from merely “liking” someone on social media! It’s about genuinely emulating the genuine ministers God placed in the Church.
Of course, it’s risky to just follow people haphazardly. However, Scripture gives us the control mechanism that as long as your Pastor truly walks with Christ, you’re safe to follow him (or her) and you should (1 Cor. 11:1). Actually, everybody follows someone, consciously or by default. Gladly, the Bible doesn’t leave that decision to chance. It instructs us who to follow safely and for our spiritual advancement. See also Phi 3:17.