This past Sunday, I preached on Colossians 2:6-15. At the beginning of this section of scripture, Paul writes:
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as your were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7
Since Paul’s mission (or an aspect of it) is to “present everyone fully mature in Christ,” I made the case that Paul offers thankfulness as a sign of a maturity in Christ. As we come to faith we are rooted. We are built up as we study the scriptures and have other people pour into us; being built up results in strengthening our faith AND a faith that strengthens us. All of this leads to a life overflowing with thankfulness. We are thankful in every situation because we are aware of the price that Jesus paid on the cross, cancelling the dead of my sin.
When I got home from church, I looked at the current issue of Relevant magazine and the story on Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan. You know Jim from his comedy routines and specials on Netflix. Both Jim and Jeannie are committed in their faith. Jeannie was diagnosed with a rare kind of brain tumor. Jesse Carey writes,
“And though doctors were miraculously able to remove it, she faced months of setbacks: surgeries, being bedridden for weeks at a time, eating through a feeding tube, a near-fatal bout of pneumonia and losing her ability to speak for three straight weeks.”
Her brain tumor and subsequent recovery allowed Jeannie to view her life in a different way. Again, Carey writes,
“I think now my faith is much more centered in gratitude than it is about asking for things,” Jeannie says. “So even though I wouldn’t have defined my faith before as asking for things, ironically me turning to God when I needed Him the most and asking Him to help me through it, I kind of felt my faith, through that whole process, blossomed into this gratitude.”
The tumor made Jeannie realize just how much she truly had to thank God for.
“I was kind of losing touch in my life, even though looking back at my life prior, the things that were happening in my life were so amazing, whether it was career-wise or my kids or my extended family, but it took me going through this crisis to experience true gratitude,” she says.
Even Jim, a comedian who’s made a career out of being grumpy about everything from physical exercise to the composition of fast food, has found a new outlook.
“You can’t go through that experience without being in touch with some gratitude,” he says. “And particularly, being in touch with the notion of how little control we have and how humble this existence is.” –No Laughing Matter (Relevant Magazine)
This may have been the best example of what Paul is talking about when a mature faith enables us to “overflow with gratitude.” We can be thankful, even in the midst of trials and tragedy, because God loves us, Jesus paid the price for our sin, and that God is with us in the midst of those trials.
This week, as you “continue to walk with Christ Jesus” commit to giving thanks in every circumstance. Even the ones we’d rather complain about. Look and listen for the ways in which God speaks, teaches, and leads you through those times.
You can listen to the sermon, “Walk This Way” by clicking on this link. Be sure to subscribe to Avenue’s sermon podcast to stay up-to-date.