April 24, 2017

The First Thanksgiving

What are you willing to give up for the sake of Christ?

Consider the scene of the first Thanksgiving celebration…

Consider the characters in that scene. The pilgrims had left behind everything for the sake of being free from religious persecution, for the sake of being able to live out their faith in Christ.

Consider what they gave up by leaving England — family and friends; warm, comfortable homes that were already built and established; security in jobs or occupations; plenty of satisfying food. They had full and comfortable lives in England, and yet they rejected those comforts for a long, hard, uncertain voyage on a rickety wooden ship (would YOU sail a wooden ship into the Atlantic?), and headed for an unknown, mostly uninhabited land.

These shopkeepers and merchants and teachers would have to till the ground themselves, work in their own fields, harvest their own crops. These people who were used to the warmth of the indoors would have to construct their own houses and raise all their own buildings.

When they finally reached the shores of America, they couldn’t even leave the boat until they had established a secure place to settle. There was no Comfort Inn waiting for them here. There was no McDonald’s where they could grab a quick bite to eat before getting to work. There were no grocery stores or hardware stores or “mail-order” supplies. There was no mail system to keep them in touch with their family and friends whom they’d left behind.

Those whom we call pilgrims gave all of that up for the sake of worshiping God as He wanted them to.

Would we do the same? Would we give up our big turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce, if God wanted us to? Would we give up our time with family and friends over the holidays, if He called us to go somewhere else? What about the day-to-day comforts that we have, the eases of our modern conveniences? Would we be so petty as to complain, to throw adult “temper tantrums,” about giving some of those things up, if God had other plans for us?

Consider the Apostle Paul who, though he had a multitude of reasons to boast, willingly gave it all up (literally, counted it as garbage) for the sake of Christ:

“If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews;
as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish,
in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him
,
not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law,
but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection,
and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead”  (Philippians 3:4-11).

So, I ask again, what are we willing to give up for the sake of Christ?

It matters not how big or small a thing it is. If He calls us to go without, to give something up, we can either obey or disobey; we can either give it up and have unhindered fellowship with Him, or we can stubbornly hold onto what we want, ignoring what God wants, and suffer through circumstances on our own, without His divine grace and enabling power.

The choice is ours. 

The consequences are also ours.

Will you choose to be a “pilgrim” for His sake?

 


Comments

  1. Yes, I am willing. But I feel that Christ is calling me to be a pilgrim for Christmas this year. No, I'm talking about the commercialism of Holiday, er, I mean Christmas. My kids are bummed but I nearly did it last year and the gifts were definitely fewer last year, but I've been talking to them for a year now about commercials and materialism, and how Jesus' birthday shouldn't mean we ought to get presents and buy a lot of stuff and be made to feel we need things we don't need. I'm still not sure exactly what to do, but I do know that there will definitely be some cool little things in their stockings, and a few fun little gifts, because I do remember Christmas mornings fondly. I just hope I'll still send the right message to them though. Anyway, thanks for this passage and this blog!

  2. Good for you, Colette! That takes a lot of courage! Hope it all goes smoothly and is an effective reminder to your kids of the real reason for celebration.