Where has the year gone? I don’t know about you but the holidays, by their very nature…a break from the regular grind, tend to usher in a time of reflection. With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, I have begun to think about what this holiday really means to me. I know the cliché answers such as we remember a good harvest or the historical celebration between the natives and the pilgrims but in truth those reasons fall short of why I celebrate this holiday.
Thanksgiving or giving of thanks. It is an act, generally speaking, we do every day as a routine part of politeness or general civility. Thank you for getting me that report or thanks for helping with the flat tire but that is not really what this holiday means to me…that is just being polite.
For me, as it is I suspect for so many of you, it is a time to be with family. It is a time to share meals with loved ones, catch a football game or two and see how you can spend your hard earned money on cheap goods at crazy hours. But even that falls short.
I recently came across Psalm 50. It’s an unusual Psalm written in God’s voice asking this question, “What do you give a God who has everything?” He simply asks for thanks by the singular dedication of our lives to Him. He asks for a giving of thanks from each and every one of us by the dedication of our hearts to him.
A friend of mine was in his church recently and looked over at his wife, his 3 children and 4 grandchildren (with two more on the way) and just buckled under the weight of what has been given to him. He is a recovering drug addict and survived not one, not two, not three but four attempts at suicide by overdose. He shared, "The only thing I could give back to God was thanks in the form of the giving of my life to my Savior."
You see I think this is the real reason for this season of Thanksgiving. It is a time to reflect on the blessings God has given you. If you would take account of the blessings: maybe you or a member of your family survived cancer, maybe your grandchild survived a traumatic birth event, maybe your family was released of the suffering brought on by Alzheimer’s, maybe you have found love again or for the first time, maybe you were blessed with work. There are so many reason to have a deep, genuine thankful encounter with the God who has everything. Can I encourage you to take a moment and think about your blessings? Then with a heart of gratitude (not a simple notion of politeness or civility) but with a humbled heart give God a heart-filled thanksgiving for all He has done for you.
Something amazing happened to me today. Before I go too much further let me confess a couple things. I am a geek/nerd in disguise and I have some neanderthal tendencies in life. Clash of clans is a borderline addiction for me. I fell into a great group of people who love Christ and enjoy playing this game together. As part of the game we play against other teams (clans) on a regular basis. The last team we played made it quite clear they were not too fond of our faithful stance on life. Using their bases to communicate some pretty strong messages. So foul in fact I had to report them. In our group we have teens and pre-teens and what the other clan was communicating was clearly not appropriate.
We lost the game against these neanderthals and they continued to taunt us…something about Jesus being on their side. So I left our clan and joined theirs. Before I left we had one guy cursing them in an unintelligible language, we had people battening down the hatches, pulling up the draw-bridges, and closing off the castle. It was a hunkering down isolationist type of attitude…keep the enemy out mindset.
The first thing I want to address in this…when I jumped clans…those neanderthals welcomed me with open arms. Chatted me up like I was the best thing since sliced bread. Laughed with me, chided me, and accepted me as one of their own after they deemed me “cool”.
What bothered me most in this and what I found so amazing is the Christians were acting like the neanderthals…and the neanderthals were acting like Christians. Full confession…I was one of the neanderthals posing as a Christian. The past 24 hours I have spent time in 1 Corinthians 13. Love. Love Love. As Christians we have to lead with love. God is quite clear that we we are nothing to him but an annoyance unless we lead with love. Even though we may have differences of opinion on the standards of life…those who have a different (and by different I mean lower) standard should not be seen as the enemy. In fact if you do a deep study of Matthew 5:38-48 you can discover this truth that works hand in hand with 1 Corinthians 13. The Christian does not have an enemy. There should be be no us vs. them mentality in the Christian. Those that are not yet followers of Christ are still God’s creation (kids)…and if they do not see themselves as His own,the Christian is called to an even higher standard of being Christ to them. So no matter how we consider people who are not followers of Christ, no matter how their behaviour and how low their standard…"Enemy" is never a description nor attitude we should put on.