Thanksgiving. It’s a simple word, yet it’s a powerful word packed full of meaning. What does it really mean to be thankful? According to Oxford Dictionaries thanksgiving is “the expression of gratitude, especially to God.”
This year feels different. I look at our world my heart breaks. So. Much. Turmoil. Everyone is mad at everyone. Everywhere you look there is violence and hatred. Conflict.
Oh how I hate conflict. Really, why can’t we all just love each other?
One reason: sin. Sin has been destroying our world and our relationships from times of old. Ever since Eve and Adam ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, evil has permeated our world.
It would be easy to give up hope. To join in the fight. To get in a good jab or snarky comment when we come across something we view as pure stupidity.
But there is a higher road. There is a better way. It’s the way of love. It’s the example Christ lived for us.
Jesus overcame great evil when He died on the cross for our sins. Not just the sins of humanity, but our sins. Ours. His death not only provided reconciliation between us and God, it can also provide reconciliation between us and the rest of humanity.
There is always going to be evil in this world, but that can’t stop us from remembering what it is to be human. We can’t pretend that some humans don’t count because they aren’t like us or hold different beliefs. We can’t let fear keep us from loving others, from being compassionate and from extending kindness.
What our world needs today, more than anything else, is the love of Jesus. Click to Tweet! Friends, that’s our job. It’s our job to love like Jesus loves. And how does Jesus love? Radically.
These are the words of Jesus, found in Luke 6:27-36:
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
This is radical love. This is the kind of love we rarely find in the world today. The question then becomes, what does this love look like?
Honestly, I don’t know. With every hot topic political, racial, or cultural issue that trends on social media these days everyone has an opinion – a strong opinion. An opinion that is typically formed quickly. One cannot become an expert on things such as the conflicts in the Middle East, Muslim culture, refugee issues, police training, homelessness, or any other issue by reading an article or two.
Each of these issues are exceedingly complex. It’s not just a matter of what’s the moral, Christian, thing to do. There’s the logistical and practical side to consider. Things like infrastructure and costs. As much as we would like one, there isn’t an easy solution.
So what do we do? How do we show the love of Christ in our world today? I think we start by being kind to each other. We don’t bash our friends, family, and acquaintances on social media. We don’t dismiss the pain we see in those who are suffering. We don’t look away or close our eyes because what we see is too difficult.
We educate ourselves. We read and we learn and we consider the thoughts and opinions of others. We help where we can. We give to quality organizations who are already helping those in need. We volunteer if we’re able. We get outside our comfort zones and allow ourselves to feel the pain of others.
We do the most important work of praying for people – even our enemies. We ask Jesus to show us how to love well, and then we do it.
This Thanksgiving I will express gratitude to God for His love for me and for the rest of the world. I will eat turkey and pumpkin pie with my family, and I will thank God for them and the fact that we are together. And I will remember.
I will remember that God is on the throne, that He’s a God of love, and that He is good. I will remember Guideline #9. Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Be one of the few.
May you find the narrow gate.
Until next time,