Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. As such our culture will be talking about what they are thankful for and about giving thanks. There is no doubt that being thankful is a good thing as it prevents us from becoming selfish and prideful. But the question we should all ask ourselves every Thanksgiving is, “To whom am I thankful? If we are giving thanks, then who is receiving this thanks?"
For much of our history Christianity has been the assumed background of America. This meant when people talked about giving thanks it was assumed that the God of Scripture was in view. There was no need to specify who was receiving this thanks. Things are very different today. For example, my unbelieving neighbor may say he is thankful to God, but he in no way would mean he is thankful to the God of Scripture. He is thankful to some undefined belief in a higher-being.
Others in our society have absolutely nothing and no one they are directing their thankfulness toward. They are just happy they have lots of stuff. In reality they are thankful about things they possess without directing that knowledge toward anything outside of themselves. Our society no longer has a shared worldview, an assumed Christianity, so when different people express thankfulness they may be directing it toward Allah, Vishnu, the universe, karma, fate, luck, a nameless god which resembles a personal cheerleader, or even themselves!
It is here that Christians must pause and think deeply about how we communicate our thankfulness in world marked by this confusion and relativism. As Francis Schaeffer reminded us, we worship the God who really is there. He really does exist and our God is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Our thankfulness does have a direction—The LORD God of Scripture. As we gather tomorrow to express thankfulness, we have the unique opportunity to define who are thankful too in contrast to the undefined thankfulness which saturates our culture. In defining our thankfulness, we are not only recognizing reality, but we are also proclaiming the gospel to a confused world.
As Christians we can offer this contrast as we gather with friends and family and as we talk about Thanksgiving in public or on social media. The contrast is that we are giving thanks to an actual God who does exist and who has in reality blessed us.
We are thankful to God of the Bible who has revealed himself to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is Christ who is the foundation for our hope and the chief reason we are thankful. It is because of Christ that we can offer thanks to the God who is there, the one who rules the universe. This is what I am thankful for—that I know the Lord of lords through the work of Jesus Christ.
It is precisely because this God is real that we shouldn't hesitate to clearly say that we are thankful to the God of Scripture as opposed to being thankful just for the sake of being thankful. Our God is there and he has blessed us; so let us offer him the thanks which is his due.