....You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedo'nia and in Acha'ia. 1 Thess 1:5-7 RSV
When Messiah chooses us, when we know that we have been purchased by his blood, we are wrong to say, "I have my ticket to heaven." Heaven is not a destination, it is new life from the moment you are born from on high. You will find that you are on a journey along a steep and narrow path but you are not alone. There are others who stepped on the path before you, and still more who will come after you.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 RSV The way of righteousness is how we are to live. A. Roth in his "Aramaic English New Testament" teaches that "turning to YHVH" is a very Jewish idea. In the English speaking world we would call this action "repentance". When we turn to YHVH or repent of sin, we find the path of righteousness. The path is a way to live. A life of righteousness is a very specific way to live. I find that it does not come natural or easily on this difficult path. Y'shua/Jesus came to show us the way. Those who followed Y'shua gave the pattern for those of us who would follow them on the path. We in turn are to be an example for those who come after us.
The beauty of this walk of faith is that we do not need to become Pharisees, judging one another, practicing ritual fasting or other pious acts to stay on the path. Make no mistake, judgement (that starts from within), fasting and pious acts all have a place upon this path we walk but they are not the path. I personally believe that the Pharisees did what they did because they wanted to be righteous before God. I think that they wanted to be worthy of being imitated. But I know that we have an element that they did not have which keeps the Way from being added to or watered down by those who go before us. We have the breath of YHVH, the Holy Spirit who gives us life in addition to his Word which gives us the way.
The Gospel comes to all of us in Word, but for the chosen it also comes with the power of the Holy Spirit, the life breath of God. You can have religion with the Word but unless you have life, religion is all you get. With the Life of the Spirit you gain a relationship with YHVH. The power to live.
Why than is it so important to be tested, proofed, and to live as an example? For me, I know my YHVH but I cannot see Him. He constantly puts before me people who are walking on the path, who show me that even when it seems difficult, we have power to overcome the difficulty and to continue on. There are those who come after me, who watch how I walk, how you walk, on this steep, narrow path. They are encouraged by our walk. There are even many on the wide path of destruction, who have slid from the path or have not yet come to faith, who watch us walk in righteousness and they are encouraged to turn to YHVH, to repent. It is important that we follow Messiah so that those who follow us can give the glory, not to us, but to Y'shua!
Press on fellow Pilgrims.