Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thankfulness and Desire

Autumn is my favorite season. Christmas is my favorite holiday.

I am a materialistic person. 

Beginning the preparations for Thanksgiving I anticipate the taste of turkey, mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls. I cannot image this holiday without those particular food staples. My plans consist of acquiring or ensuring that such foods are purchased, prepared, and ready for consumption come the fourth Thursday of the month. Only then does Thanksgiving feel like the holiday I have always known.

Immediately following Thanksgiving is the preparation of Christmas season. "Black Friday" is a household phrase; a wellspring of savings and fortune for some, an event to criticize for others. Come each Thanksgiving afternoon, I find myself idly thumbing through the stacks of ads from various department, toy, and supermarket stores; and it somehow sparks in me the obsession to find the perfect gifts for everyone.... myself included.

I struggle every year because of this. I feel hungry to buy, hungry to give, hungry to receive. Why? Am I less holy, less "put together", less Christian than the rest? Is it just a personal flaw I have? Am I a mere product of American consumerism, built-in traditions, childhood greed?

1 Timothy 6:6 - 16 addresses this. Seeking material comfort is not a cultural quirk or a personal battle. It is intrinsic in our selfish nature to seek comfort, to seek to build our own kingdom. In fact, it is so strong a desire in us that Paul, when writing to Timothy, warns him with undeniable gravity:

Flee from all this
Pursue righteousness
Fight the good fight of the faith
Take hold of eternal life
In the sight of God... I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame

It is a battle, a desperate call to arms, to abandon self and realign your innermost being to the voice of God. And like most wars of desperation, it demands sacrifice. It demands diligence, the will to overcome impossible odds, to fight a bloody fight of pain and tears and death.... so that self may die and Christ may take its place.

Today I am thankful. Thankful that God chose me to be in His Kingdom. Thankful that He has called me by name to take up arms and fight against myself, my desires and pride. Thankful that he handcrafted me in all my strengths and weaknesses to go beyond my own expectations and imagination to proclaim His story in a world that is starving to know who is Christ? This is the greatest gift of all.

1 Timothy 6:6 - 16 :

Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

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