Imagine with me that I prepare a delicious feast for my family. I mean, I go all out on this one. I spend almost all day preparing. I make everyone’s favorite foods. I present it beautifully and with a smile.
As they begin eating, my husband looks at my son and says, “Wow, Mom really made us a nice meal tonight. Make sure you tell her thank you.”
My son replies, “How can I be sure Mom was the one who made this meal? I mean, I’m not saying she didn’t, just that I’m not completely sure, and I don’t necessarily think I have to thank her specifically.”
“Son, you can see the meal. You can taste it. And Mom told us she made it for us. You need to be grateful for that.”
“I am grateful – in a general sense. This meal is a great blessing. But that doesn’t mean I’m indebted to Mom. No offense – I don’t have anything against Mom. I don’t hate her, and I won’t be offended if I find out later that she made this meal. But for now, I just want to enjoy the meal without thinking about who gave it to me. I might find out it’s the neighbor, and I’ll write her a thank you note. Or I might find out Grandma made it, and I’ll be sure to give her a big hug. But I don’t know for now. In fact, all I know for sure is that there’s no way we’d be eating this meal if I hadn’t stayed out of the kitchen. Really, you all should be thanking me for playing Legos in my room all afternoon.”
Humorous as it may be, if this conversation really happened and was completely serious, would I be wrong to be offended by my son? Would I be wrong to punish him for his attitude? Would I be wrong to take the meal away and give him something less appealing?
No, of course not.
And yet, we tend to think that God is unfair in His wrath toward us. We think it’s an exaggeration when Colossians 1:21 says we were once “alienated from God and enemies in [our] minds because of [our] evil behavior” or when Ephesians 2:1-3 says we were “dead in our transgressions and sins […] by nature deserving of wrath” (NIV).
We’ve known or heard of people who really were enemies of God, but we see our indifference as excusable. It’s not that we had anything against God; we just wanted to enjoy His gifts without having to think about the One who gave them.
But consider with me that God has given us absolutely everything: the beauty of nature, our material wealth, our relationships, our bodies, our souls, our reason, our senses, and the very breath of life. Consider that He is actively holding together the atoms of the universe, including the ones that make up us.
We cannot even keep our hearts beating by sheer willpower. He can.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:20-21, NIV)
Don’t be mistaken: indifference is hostile. Neglecting to acknowledge and thank God is damnable.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. […] Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-4, 8-9, NIV)
Praise be to our merciful, grace-giving God who loves us beyond our wildest imaginations.
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