For This I’m Thankful

I wanted this devotional to be about 2 very different football games, both with the same outcome but achieved in very different ways, God wasn’t a fan of this idea because He placed a different burden on my heart for today and for this I’m thankful, because it means He’s still talking to me. I have a wonderful wife, 2 healthy happy boys, a good job, a home to go to, an abundance of blessings God has given me, for this I’m thankful.

One of the things people often try to do during the holidays is pick one thing they are most thankful for. It can be a difficult decision and oft times people aren’t able to choose that one thing, but today I found it, God gave it to me and for this I’m thankful. While I was in seminary, I had the opportunity to preach in a lot of churches; sometimes when the pastor was on vacation, when the church was without a pastor, at youth camps, mission meetings, sometimes when a pastor felt sorry for me because it’s been a while since someone let me preach and I discovered something, something very ugly. So what is that ugly something? Churches have some very un-Godly people in them, some more than others, but they all have them.

The Devil is able to do more damage to churches, and the cause of Christ using church members than using non-believers. Comments like “did you hear what they did”, “I can’t believe they wore that to church”, “I can’t believe s/he would come back here”, “I’m surprised they’re still together” whatever it might be, church folks can be some of the most un-Godly, un-forgiving people on the planet. God’s people aren’t always a reflection of God and I’m thankful God isn’t who some of His people make Him to be. That’s hard to say, some may think it is harsh to say, it breaks my heart to say it, but many times, we fail miserably in our responsibility to be an ambassador of Jesus Christ.

Think for a moment if you would about Peter. Imagine you’re on a boat with Peter and the other disciples, Jesus has sent you on the boat and all of a sudden, you all look and there Jesus is, walking on the water towards you. Everyone is understandably scared out of their minds and Jesus, sensing that fear assures everyone there is nothing to be afraid of, it really is Him. Everyone calms down and the Peter speaks up and says ‘Oh yeah, well Jesus if it really is You, let me walk on water too.’ A hush falls over the boat, anticipation as to how Jesus will respond, and then He invites Peter out of the boat onto the water. Peter steps out and walks on the water towards Jesus, then he gets a little overconfident, begins to look around sees the wind and waves and begins to sink. Sinking, Peter cries to Jesus for help and Christ extends His hand, pulls Peter from the water and guides him to the safety of the boat.

Now imagine if you would if Jesus was a little more like some church folks. Peter questions if it is really Him and Jesus invites Peter to join Him on the water. Peter walks out on the water towards Jesus, then he begins to sink, cries out for help and Jesus responds, ‘really Peter, I helped you once, you really expect me to help you again’. Or Jesus scoffs, ‘how dare you question me’, or He looks at everyone in the boat and says ‘can you believe he’d ask for help after I already helped him once’. But that’s not Jesus, it is nowhere close to who He is, for that I’m thankful.

As God’s children, we have a responsibility to be like Christ. Whether we like it or not, people are watching to see how we act and re-act and our actions influence how people think of Christ. We should, we must, be more like Christ, more forgiving, more understanding, more loving. The next time someone comes to you with gossip, tell them you don’t want to hear it. When you are tempted to judge, remember that it isn’t our place, but Christ’s. Lastly, we have to love, love and love some more. All of our responsibilities to Christ center on His love and our showing the world His love by loving people, even when we think we can’t.

May we live our life in such a way that we wouldn’t be worried if Christ acted like us; He won’t, and for this we can all be thankful.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV