By Jon Wren
French journalist and author Alphonse Karr was widely known throughout Europe in the 19th century as chief editor of Paris’ famous Le Figaro. Yet despite his fame in journalism, Karr’s passion in life was gardening. Karr described his life’s philosophy this way: “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
Karr’s words are a perfect illustration of the thanksgiving and gratitude Christ followers should have. The apostle Paul encouraged the church in Colossae to see their lives and circumstances through the perspective of gratitude for Christ and his work in their lives. He wrote,
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:15-17).
Paul’s words to the Colossians were not written lightly or without regard for pain and hardship. Remember, Paul wasn’t writing this letter from a beachside resort but from a jail cell. And he wasn’t writing to a wealthy and comfortable group of Christians “living their best life” for the world to see. The Colossians were, in fact, a persecuted minority facing opposition from local authorities and hostile false teachers looking for any reason to arrest them.
Paul wanted them to understand that thankfulness and gratitude to Christ didn’t minimize their danger; instead, it should change the way they were seeing danger. The danger should become an opportunity to glorify and honor the One who had promised to be with them no matter what.
As Christ followers, we don’t simply choose to be grateful, we choose to be grateful to Christ. The celebration of Communion is not just a ritual for ritual’s sake, but an important practice of reframing our mind, especially at Thanksgiving, toward gratitude and thankfulness to Jesus and the work he has already done—work that provides us hope in this life and in the life to come!
Jon Wren works with the Office of Civil Rights, addressing the impact of gentrification on school desegregation. He loves history, college football, and once got a ticket for driving too slowly.