I Thank My God
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. (Romans 1:8)
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus… (1 Corinthians 1:4)
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you… (Philippians 1:3)
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. (2 Timothy 1:3)
I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers… (Philemon 4)
It doesn’t take a Bible scholar or a degree in theology to detect a theme in these verses. Paul regularly spent time thanking God—saying it out loud, specifically, and repeatedly.
I’m instructed and helped when I read these texts. Whether by natural disposition or spiritual slowness (or both), I’m prone to see what’s wrong before I see what’s right. Perhaps you’re like me. You notice the picture that’s crooked in the hallway and not the 15 others that are straight.
In part, that gravitational pull to what’s out-of-place or in error is a good thing. We are made in the image of God, and God commissions us to order and subdue the earth. Correcting typos and replacing that one bad bulb on the Christmas tree are not bad things; they’re creational mandate kind of things.
But so is thanking God. In fact, one of the effects of the fall is a thankless heart:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)
Dark hearts are not just dead, they’re thankless. They don’t take the time or energy required to direct their gaze to God in thanksgiving. They see blessings but don’t count them as blessings. Maybe they even wonder and grumble that there are not more blessings.
What does this have to do with Green Springs? Well, I’ll note just two things. First, notice in the verses above that Paul is careful to thank God for people. In fact, it’s five for five. Every instance involves thanksgiving for the saints. Let me be so bold as to say that the best thing about the building will not be the building. The best thing about the building is that it will, Lord willing, house a communion of saints united in praise to God. For that, we can and always should give thanks.
But I do think we can rightly extend this thanksgiving to the building itself. We should be thankful for the gift God has given to us. How do we do that? I think it means tempering unrealistic expectations or demands (not that I hear those… I mainly hear, “Walls will be awesome!”). It means overlooking some things that are wrong (there will be some) and giving thanks for things that are right (there will be many). It means giving thanks to the people who’ve helped make this possible—people like Ryan Adams, Mike Gibson, Adam Thrower, Lev Bragg, Jeremy Bolton, and a host of others who’ve given thought and attention to details. I could go on, but you get the picture. We have much for which to thank God.
And, last, I’d be remiss if I didn’t conclude with a general exhortation to thanksgiving since this happens to be Thanksgiving week (full disclosure: this fact didn’t dawn on me until about 5 minutes ago, but let’s act like I timed this blog post on thanksgiving for Thanksgiving week). The building is reason to praise and thank God, but it’s really far down the list when it comes to other reasons to praise and thank God, isn’t it? The building could disappear tomorrow, and we’d have no less reason to praise God. He has made us in His image. He has provided for our needs. He has disclosed Himself in His Word. Above all, He has given Himself for our sins. That’s enough. Indeed, that will always be enough for the church to say, “I thank my God…”
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