Each year around this time, we hear a lot about being thankful. Even when we’re not in the mood, we’re expected to pretend that we’re thankful, at least the few hours a week we’re at church. We have a lot to be thankful for, we hear, and yet the collective national mood has been one that has seemed to be particularly ungrateful.
As followers of Christ, we know that we are supposed to stand up for what is right. But with the anger and vitriol that has accompanied our national mood as of late, the question becomes how do we stand up for Christ while remaining grateful and unjaded? How do we make a difference in our city, state and nation, yet remain as kind and compassionate as Christ would have us be toward our children, grandchildren and the ‘least of these?’
The questions are ones worth considering and come with no simplistic platitudes for answers. But seeking these answers is crucial, lest we harden our hearts, which God specifically warns us against (Prov 28:13-14; Heb 3:8).
Not only are we to guard our hearts, we are to guard them (as scripture warns) regardless of how “correct” we believe we are with our political leanings. In short, most of us understand — whether we practice it or not — that we are to love not only our neighbors, but also our enemies.
For most of us, it seems much easier to allow our hearts to be hardened than to continue to fight the good fight. But, we must make every effort. When at church, or consulting a small business or group, there are some real steps we can take to separate ourselves, this Thanksgiving — and year round — as needed:
- Take a break. This includes several days (in a row) at a retreat of some sort, away from all television and social media. It will still be there when you get back.
- Time with a good book, including God’s word, away from outside influences.
- Time in prayer.
- Regular worship. A healthy church family should be uplifting, free of political influence and/or angry rhetoric.
There is no cure-all to help us maintain gratitude. But most of us understand that if we’re not grateful, we’re showing the world we’re no different than everyone else.
Christopher Dixon is the Chief Operating Officer of eLectio Publishing (electiopublishing.com) and the pastor of West Finley Baptist Church near Fordland, Mo.