We are careful not to judge people by what they seem to be, though we once judged Christ in that way. Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.
- Paul (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
These Together for Good reflections are sent out every single Thursday morning. They help us focus our minds on ways to become like Jesus. So why send this one out on Wednesday night? Well, just a hunch…. Some of you might need an extra night of reflection before this Thursday morning rolls around.
Seven months ago, when we started the TFG project, the hope was that they would strengthen the connection between our relationship with Jesus, and how that impacts our relationships with others. The internal always affects the external.
That’s all well and good when it comes to our churches. After all, isn’t that the whole point of participating in Church?
But when it comes to extended family, there’s this:
ALL BETS ARE OFF.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Seriously though. There is a likelihood that sometime tomorrow (or perhaps already), there will be an element of together that you will experience. Parents, in-laws, aunts, friends, uncles, stepdads, that grandfather with NO filter, and that person that acts like they know you, so you act like you know them, but you have no idea who they are.
And with all that vibrant togetherness, many will experience that wonderful reality of holidays... tension.
-Tension from family issues and fights from a decade ago.
-Tension from acting like everything is perfect because it’s hard to be real.
-Tension from political viewpoints that drastically differ.
-Tension from the presence of alcohol and how it may be used.
-Tension from comparing cooking, families, accomplishments, or whose kids have taken a shower most recently.
It’s hard to deny that times together with family can feel complicated.
For some, the best you are hoping for is that things are uneventful. But your fear is that multiple landmines could explode at any time. You’d like to be thankful, but really, you'll be thankful on Friday morning!
So on Thanksgiving, there may be a real risk that you are expecting a Together for Bad experience.
And yet you will be together… and if it’s family, then there’s a good chance that you’re together…. for good.
Can I give you simple encouragement as you gear up?
God created us for relationship. And in this world, as we walk with Jesus, our relationships with others become a powerful force for good. They don’t always feel that way.
And yet we have been given power. Power to affect the world for good. Power that comes from the Spirit of Jesus in us. Power that can turn ugly things into beautiful things because we are being transformed ourselves.
What would make tomorrow be a Together for Good experience? Take a moment to ask God to make you a partner toward that goal. It will be different for everyone, but it will involve one similarity: You will have to view people in a new way.
Because of Jesus, we now see everyone not for their faults or mistakes, but for their value. We look at every single individual as endowed with unimaginable worth and value. We look with eyes of grace and hope, and we speak with words of gentleness and compassion. Thanks be to God for giving us a spirit that can do such a thing during times of tension!
If there’s a risk that Thanksgiving might feel like a Together for Bad sort of a day, invite Jesus into it and surprise people with love. And if you have very little family tension, you can pray the same prayer, asking God to show you how to truly make your family time a time when others walk away and say, wow, we were really together for good today.
Jesus, give me insight and courage to love others for good as I approach Thanksgiving.