6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (NASB, emphasis mine)
The church at Thessalonica was born in a tempestuous time span of three weeks. Paul, Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy came on the scene, stirred up trouble in the synagogue, and had to leave out the back door at night. Their host, Jason, was dragged before the magistrates to answer for these men who allegedly “upset the world.” Out of this chaos was born a special body of believers. They became the example of a local church body as they imitated their founding fathers and the Lord. So dramatic and obvious was their calling, one minute they’re following idols, the next they’ve turned 180 degrees to serve “a living and true God.” How was their authenticity so individually and collectively obvious? Acts of faith. Labors of love. Persevering hope, especially in the imminent return of the Lord and our rescue from the coming wrath.