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jesus the radical pastor | exploring the life and mission of the 1st century Jesus for our 21st century » Blog Archive » “Thanks Be to God” – Happy Thanksgiving!

No glory, no gratitude

Like seeing a flash of lightning from the corner of our eye, it’s easy to miss. So much thunder and wind in Romans 1 that we pay scant attention to this quick little burst: “…nor gave thanks to him…” (Romans 1:21). Its brevity does not diminish its impact. I don’t want to ever get struck by lightning.

Right out of the shute when human rebellion occurred, thanksgiving ceased with its twin “glorifying God.” Here it is: For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:21). No glory, no gratitude. These two are joined at the heart.

In our increasingly entitlement culture, thanksgiving is fading fast. “You owe me” is quickly replacing “Thank you.” Even towards God. Just learn the magic “health and wealth” prayer words and, cha-ching! God (allegedly) spits money like the slots at Vegas. And repeatedly shouting “GLOW-REE! in the name of Jeeeezzzus!” with all this idiocy going on doesn’t redeem it one bit. Frankly, it’s sickening.

Ingratitude: the new cool

Nor gave thanks to him. We think, “No big whoop.” Ingratitude seems to be the new cool. Did you see the America’s Funniest Videos when the little kid opened his Christmas present and got really angry because it wasn’t what he wanted? That’s a clear snapshot of all of us at times.

Nor gave thanks to him. Somehow I imagine the heart of God breaking and deeply aching when Paul penned those few words. Rebellious humans marginalized God by not glorifying him. That is sheer human lunacy. And then we add insult to injury, we trample on him and his gifts which sustain us. Nor gave thanks to him. Who created the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the people we love, the very life we live? God did. With just a wink of his watchful eye, we could cease to be. Out of God’s mind, out of existence. So, how arrogant, how prideful is ingratitude?

Thanks be to God

Thanks be to God. Can we say it too much? I imagine God delights in a gracious, thankful human life. Perhaps to glorify God is a choice and to give God thanks is the expression of that choice. Without that prior choice, it’s like hearing a mother saying to her trick-or-treating child, “Now, what do you say to the nice person? C’mon, what do you say?” Forced gratitude is an oxymoron.

I am looking forward to being with family and friends this Thanksgiving. Surrounded by so those I love and a life to enjoy–all of it traceable ultimately to God with every heartbeat being a gift and every breath a bonus–my only right, dare I say, sane, response is “Thanks be to God!”

Happy Thanksgiving!