This Thanksgiving, give thanks as a Christian
This post was contributed by worship leader Mike Hale.
[Following is an excerpt from an article by Matt Royal. You can read Matt’s entire article Giving Thanks as a Christian, in the Nov. 8, 2010 issue of The Adopted Life. The same issue includes an excellent article on Advent by Jonathan Stepp, titled The Womb of the Incarnation.]
The act of thanksgiving centers us, stabilizes us, and reinforces the truth of our place of dependence in this universe. When we as Christians give thanks to our God, we are not just giving thanks to the source of all blessings. We are giving thanks to a God who knows us and who shares his life with us in a personal way. We give thanks to the one true God who is (and always has been) all about person-to-person relationships.
We give thanks to a God who is not a simple individual, but a community. He is the Trinity—one God who is Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. In our God the sharing of life and love has always been who he is, and out of that he shares his life with us. Out of his energy and intellect and self-giving, he gave us the possibility and the reality of life and breath; because of him we have minds and hearts and strength. He shares in all our joys and all our pains. And out of his incredible affection and care for us, in Jesus he shares in our human life willingly and graciously.
God honors our personhood. You and I are not just pieces of the created universe. It isn’t as if, from God’s perspective, there’s this classification called ‘Humanity” and we’re just random, unremarkable examples of it. God likes us and our uniqueness. He likes the interactivity, the give-and-take that happens when people come together. Paul speaks directly to this divine privilege of personhood and relationship.
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (I Timothy 2:1, NLT).This Thanksgiving, give thanks for your family as a whole, but also give thanks for each member individually, personally, as an individual gift of presence, in themselves a blessing! God decided to bring that person into the world—different and special, just as he brought you into the world, with your unique laugh and walk and way of being you. Give thanks for those who couldn’t be with you, for those who wouldn’t be with you. Maybe right there, at the table—maybe privately, between you and God.
Choose to see each person as a blessing, and as someone who needs blessing. They need the same blessings you need; all the nastiness and trouble that has become evident in their lives and in their relationships with you and the people you love may just be a judgment that they need Jesus, and the need for God’s will “that everyone be saved and understand the truth” to become known as real in their life. Choose to see God’s wisdom in making that person and bringing him into your life. Trust God’s control of your future, and of theirs, and give up trust in yourself. Give up the idea that you really see things as they truly are.
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time (1 Timothy 2:6).Know that Jesus has bought your freedom, our freedom. Know that redemption is a reality. Know that—as we are going to sing in a few weeks—God and sinners are reconciled. All those people we find it difficult to give thanks for, all those people who seem miserable and intent on making us miserable… It’s a lot easier to give thanks for them when we know that their freedom has been paid for! Their reconciliation has been accomplished!
Just as God has given you and me freedom and has brought us into his life, the truth is that in his relationship with the rest of the people in our world, God is not captive to their attitudes, their anger, their blindness and their resentments! We may find them difficult to be around, but God has always chosen to be around them—and having been there, and having known them as they are, in Jesus God has given his life that they may live in him.
This year, have a wonderful Trinitarian Thanksgiving!