Thanksgiving

23 Nov

As I sit on here on so-called “Black Friday,” I consider the irony of our culture. We set aside a day to supposedly give thanks for all we have, just so that the next day we can get a bunch of new stuff that we didn’t have the day before, yet wanted. Seems similar to the concept of “Fat Tuesday” to me, where people decide to load up a bunch of sins from which they will abstain during the Lenten period beginning on the very next day—Ash Wednesday.

There are few things that must flow logically from this concept. The first is that we are not (as a culture) truly thankful. I like to think of it in these terms. When my child says, “Dad, thank you so much for what you’ve given me. Can I have something else?” I follow that they don’t really want what I have given them, though I am happy that they were at least nice about it.:) I would assert that the only way to be truly thankful is through the regenerating work of Christ, but that is food for a different meal.

The holiday of Thanksgiving itself is a weird one. There are some out there who attempt to spiritualize it, which I believe is a good thing mirroring the very nature of God. On the other hand, I feel that many who do this believe that Thanksgiving itself, as celebrated in this culture, is Christian or of distinctly Christian roots. I believe just as important as taking something devoid of Christ and injecting Christ into it is the reality of understanding what is actually occurring. We must see that the American culture itself is not crying out to God with thanks on this holiday.

Perhaps it is an over-bias of mine, but I feel like it is a real problem that we have a set of people attributing to God the mandation of the American Thanksgiving Day. The holiday was officially recognized by a President who didn’t even claim to be a Christian. The main reason of the holiday was for the earlier boost it gave the economy with earlier Christmas shopping. This is clearly not the championing of a new Christian cause. Further, even the element that seems to be the genesis of this argument (the giving of thanks) is distinctively wrapped in language that completely removed Abraham Lincoln’s allusion to God in his hope decades earlier.

All of this to say that this should be one of the good things about the holiday for us. As Christians we should be distinct from the world and their practices. Living in a culture so addicted to consumerism and the infatuation with “things” to make us happy, it should be easy for a group of people whose only sufficiency comes from Christ to stand out. We should be able to easily be seen as the group that gives thanks in ways that are different.

As we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, we should live in state of thankfulness for the Lord and what he has done 365 days a year. When we get this down, then we will know what a holiday called Thanksgiving actually should be about. And maybe we could start on transforming our culture to look to a God who gives us peace, instead of the “stuff” we can accumulate, which is forever being augmented. This is where I am really trying to focus on the concept Richard Parker taught us at the Men’s Recharge Conference last week. The Bible tells us to count it as joy WHEN WE ENCOUNTER VARIOUS TRIALS.

This is the true meaning of what our thanksgiving should be. When we can be thankful for the trials we are put through, when we can be thankful for all the things that our “Tough Providences“, when we can be thankful when culture considers us outcasts, when we can love in spite of attacks on the very core of what we believe, when we can be thankful enough for what God has given us that we don’t covet the sales on Black Friday, when we can be blameless and harmless, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, then we may shine as lights in the world and be celebrating a Thanksgiving that God would have for us!

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