TO HELP US REMAIN ANCHORED IN SCRIPTURE WHEN IT COMES TO THE DIFFERENT COMPONENTS OF THE CORPORATE WORSHIP ON SUNDAY MORNING, THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES WILL EXPLORE EACH OF THE PARTS MAKING UP AN ORDER OF SERVICE ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAY.
Read past blog posts in this series here:
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. - Colossians 2:6-7
Part 5 of our series on Worship addresses thanksgiving. After reading the verses above we may be asking, “What does ‘...abounding in thanksgiving’ even look like?” Whatever it looks like we can be sure of a few things we get right from the text. When we understand them we can see why we have a separate time of public thanksgiving during our Sunday morning worship service.
Connected to Christ
Thanksgiving is a blatant characteristic in the life of a follower of Christ. To know Jesus is to be thankful. The absence of thankfulness in a person who makes a profession of faith in Jesus Christ is a contradiction. When Jesus healed 10 lepers only one came back to thank him. And when he did Luke says he “fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks” (Luke 17:16). We are who we are and we experience all we do as Sons of God, a right given to us by God (John 1:12) and accepted to be true by faith. As the leper was rightly worshiping, Jesus asked him a simple yet shaming question. “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" (Luke 17:17-18). His point is clear. The Jews, as God’s people, should have known better. All the OT sacrifices had a thanksgiving component. If you say you belong to God you will show it by your actions, namely the giving of thanks. Once again we see the narrowness of the path that leads to life and that few (in this case 1 out of 10!) find it. Knowing Jesus = Giving Thanks.
Flowing from Faith
Well, one might say, it’s easy to be thankful when good things are happening. True. That’s why the Apostle Paul connects thanksgiving with the faith we have in God. It’s interesting to note that the word abounding is connected with our faith. It’s the last in a string of participles all of which get their impetus of action from something that precedes it, in this case the call to walk by faith. Paul addressed the “firmness” of the faith of the Colossians in 2:5 and he carries the idea forward into verses 6 and 7. His point here is this: the conduct of our Christian lives unfolds by faith which is the same way we came to Christ in the first place. The Galatians made the mistake of thinking they could acquire salvation by faith and then live a saved life through the strength of their own works of righteousness. Wrong, Paul says. We start by faith and we finish by faith because Jesus alone is the Founder and Perfecter or to put it another way, the Author and Completer of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). One of the ways we know we are living the life of faith is by the presence of thanksgiving. It’s associated with all we do, good times and bad. When trials come, and they do come, we count them all joy. That joy expresses itself in true and sincere thanks to God in the midst of the trial. It’s a habit of life for Christians that sets them apart from the rest of the world.
Unfolding in Unity
We are in this together. All 10 of the lepers should have returned and given thanks to Jesus for His abundant mercy and grace shown them. Sometimes life overtakes us, does it not? It’s hard to say thanks when you’re 10 feet under and have a mouthful of water! When scripture says thanksgiving is a mark of faith that doesn’t mean we don’t fail from time to time to give thanks. But when you look at the overall picture of your life the unthankful times are sporadic. That’s where the Body of Christ comes in. It’s such an encouragement to me to hear everybody give thanks on Sunday morning in the worship service. It reminds me this is an act of worship to be accomplished by grace by ALL God’s people. And when the kids jump in, well, it’s over the top for me. There have been those mornings when out of the mouth of babes comes a simple word that makes me realize I have been behaving like one of the 9 lepers who failed to return. I confess my sin and am restored. Then guess what I do?