Summary: Who we really are is revealed by how we think about four major areas of life: God, time, money, and relationships. This message looks at the second two.
Wildwind Community Church
David K. Flowers
I believe that developing spiritual eyes – eyes that see God all around us – spot Him in things and in people and in world events and in circumstances good and bad – this is the key to thanksgiving. All over the world people get out of bed every day and face the day from one of a few possible perspectives.
1. This world is all there is. Everything is precisely what it appears to be. Bad things are always, eternally, and unchangeably bad.
2. There is more to this world than meets the eye. There’s something behind it all.
These are two vastly different perspectives with different implications for how a person lives moment to moment. And over the years I have learned that you can’t simply give an IQ test in order to determine the believers from the non-believers. It’s not as if all the smart people are materialists and all the stupid people are spiritualists. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, is a committed Christ-follower. So is Dr. Armand Nicolai – psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School. So is Dr. Timothy Johnson, recent ABC News medical correspondent. There is a pretty big list of very intelligent people who believe there’s something beyond this world – people who spend their lives looking at human cells, human genes, the human body, the human mind, and declare, “Everywhere I go I see you.”
On the other hand, we all know there are also some very bright people who are materialists, who might say, “There is no God but nature – this world is all there is.” Sigmund Freud was an atheist. Carl Sagan was an atheist. Many of our brightest scientists are atheists.
Why am I spending time on this? Because the spiritual world – spiritual reality – begins with a choice. No one is forced to believe what they believe. Everyone makes a choice. There are reasons to believe. And reasons not to. Believers tend to find a reason to believe in everything that happens around them. Non-believers tend to find a reason not to believe in everything that happens.
Key to the spiritual life – key to finding a relationship with God – key to entry into the spiritual Kingdom Jesus spoke so much about – is developing our spiritual vision. Several years ago there was a song by Queensryche called Silent Lucidity and there was a line in that song that said, “If you open your eyes to me, you won’t rely on open eyes to see.” I hear that line and think of God saying it. If God opens the eyes of our hearts, we will not need to rely on the things around us – there’s another kind of sight, another way of knowing.
In talking about MeChurch last week and this week, we are dealing with selfishness – with the things that deaden our spiritual vision – things that will undeniably prevent us from seeing beyond this world and the things of this world. Last week we looked at the human tendency to want to re-cast God in an image that is easy for us to worship, comfortable for us, and doesn’t ask much of us. We also looked at how easy it is for us to see people not as influences that God will use to mold us into his image, but as vehicles for the meeting of our own needs. We talked about how we must learn to see God as he really is, and have a proper view of relationships so that we can get out of ourselves in order to allow God to get in!
Giving thanks is an inherently spiritual act. It is transcendent by definition. Why give thanks if there’s no one to give thanks to? And if there’s someone to give thanks to what else might we be obliged to give to such a Being? We cannot give thanks without gratitude, and gratitude is a spiritual quality. It comes from that part of us that is more than food, more than sex, more than instinct, but aware – conscious – acting deliberately and willfully – able to understand consequences and recognize benefits – and feel grateful. Thanksgiving implies blessing, and awareness of having been blessed. When people give thanks to God, no matter their spiritual condition, they exercise a little piece of them that seeks God. Thanksgiving is an act of reaching out to God. The problem is how many do this without considering the possibility that maybe God is trying to reach back. And if God is reaching back, are there barriers in our world that might keep him from getting through? Do we want a God who forces himself on us, who will yell at us, or do we want a God who will approach if we are approachable, speak if we are listening?