A few weeks ago my housemate built me a bed from scratch. It’s amazing – a bed 5 ft off the ground, with sliding shirt hangers underneath, and all from a few blocks of wood and some hardboard from a skip. I was seriously chuffed and the week after he made it I couldn’t stop banging on about it.
So there you go – it’s not that I’m not a praising kind of person. It might not be Tottenham that does it for me, but give me a new bed or three points to the Hammers and I’ll be waxing lyrical. But the challenge of Sunday’s sermon on Ephesians 1.1-10 was whether or not we ‘bless God’. Hmm. Do I? I’d even estimate 90% of the time I sing praise songs in church I’m not actually mindfully thankful.
I was chatting the other night with a friend and we quickly reached the conclusion we’re both really unthankful to God when it comes to day-to-day life. So today I’ve been trying to think about my day with the reality-specs on, knowing that God has given me every good thing in it and therefore being thankful to God for the great time with a friend, the pleasure of the Mars Bar milkshake, a productive morning at work. The ‘what are you thankful to God for?’ question is one we’ll definitely start asking each other. But Sachy showed us Ephesians 1 is about more than just that; Paul grounds his praises to God with the reasoning that he ‘has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing’. And then it’s bam-bam-bam.
On Monday morning I thought about some of the particular blessings Paul says God has lavished upon us… all of them are blessings – they’re things that God has given to us because we are included in Jesus, because we’re Christians. We talk about ‘not deserving them’, but I realized how easily I pass over the reality of that in my emotions. The whole shebang of Paul’s super-sentence (1v3-14) is the heart and soul of being a Christian. And it’s all stuff that I don’t and can’t have any natural claim on – being chosen, being made God’s child, forgiveness of sin… it’s all complete unmerited gift. And so I found the refrain in v6 and v14 a really great way to anchor my prayers and prompt me to being glad – ‘to the praise of his glorious grace’. To complement that I’ve found a few songs all about praising God to ‘sing’ along to on the old mp3 player as I walk to work, keeping in mind God’s gracious inclusion of me in his plan.
This has started to help me bridge the gap between knowing logically it’s a good thing to be ‘in Christ’, or articulating the goodness of the gospel when I’m chatting to someone who’s not a believer, and then actually knowing these blessings and realizing the goodness of being included in this plan so that I’m actively praising God. Its gonna take lots of adjusting my eyes to the Ephesians 1 planetarium and its gonna take questions from my Christian mates, but I’m praying that my thankfulness for all that I have in Jesus will remain long after the novelty of a new bed has faded.
The original post from In the Shadow of the Gherkin can be found here.