Christians should be, by nature, thankful people. We understand that we were created by God, in His image, with the capacity to know Him and love others created in His image. As we all celebrate the day of Thanksgiving this week, I wanted to offer a specific word of encouragement and exhortation to U?WP readers.
Those of us who especially care about issues of race and justice in the Church face a unique temptation. We see problems around us and are tempted to frustration or despair when we think about how far we have to go to reach the vision presented in Revelation 7 of the redeemed from every tribe, tongue, and nation united around the throne of Christ. I do not want to temper that passion. I want to suggest that with holy, healthy discontentment we nurture a habit of thanksgiving as a part of our personal walk with the Lord.
Believers have been ransomed from the debt we owed God for our rebellion against Him. We have been united with Christ, receiving his perfect righteousness which we could have never earned. We have been adopted as sons and daughters of the King and awarded the full privileges of royal children. We have been grafted into the family of God and given mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers beyond what we could expect or achieve by any other means (Matthew 19:29).
Beyond our personal salvation, God, through his common grace, has established a more just society in our land compared to years past. Laws which relegated certain ethnicities to lives of servitude or second-class citizenship are becoming rarer and rarer. Rights which were once only theoretical are becoming normal. We cannot ignore that without ignoring the work of God to bring these blessings about.
Christians ought to affirm both of these truths: though there has been progress, there is also much more work to do in the realm of justice. “This is our Father’s world, it’s also a fallen one,” as a pastor and friend of mine has said. Let’s not allow the latter to eclipse the former. We know how this convoluted story will end. So, this Thanksgiving, let us give thanks in anticipation of all we trust the Father will accomplish for us. Let’s celebrate with confidence, knowing that all that is sad is coming untrue. We do not need to ignore the problems around us to do so. In fact, we join God’s condemnation of evil when we announce His triumph over it.
Let’s eat some turkey and make conversation with that family member who drives us crazy and watches news channels that we think are unhelpful. Let’s be the ones to offer olive branches in crazy times when such efforts are derided as weak. We can forbear, knowing that the perfect Judge of all the earth will do right. The quiet strength of our Savior is the model. Happy Thanksgiving, beloved.
- Thank God for saving undeserved sinners like you and me.
- Pray for strength to love those we do not understand.
- Thank God for progress we’ve made and ask Him for wisdom to be thankful even as we anticipate work He has yet to do.