What does it mean to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind…?” This past weekend, I chewed on that question, along with my fried turkey and pecan pie. It seems like the answer should be pretty simple. Just as understanding what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself,” should also be pretty simple. Nevertheless, we Christians seem to struggle with these answers at times. It’s no wonder that Christ felt the need to make it “easy” for us by boiling down a lot of complicated rules to just two: Rule #1; Love God and Rule #2; Love your neighbor. And yet, we struggle.
To understand what it means to “love my neighbor,” I only have to consider how I want other people to treat me. However, understanding what it means to love God seems a bit less obvious. Unlike my neighbor, God doesn’t really ever need my help. And it doesn’t seem like there could be anything I have that God doesn’t already have. So what can I do to love God? Obedience to God is thought to be one way to demonstrate a love for God and that brings me back to following those two rules I was just talking about: Love God and love your neighbor. OK, either I’ve figured it all out, or I am just retracing my steps and am hopelessly lost. I think I’m following the rules, but they don’t really tell me what it means to “love” God.
What if all God wants is for me to love God by living life with a focus on gratitude for all God has given me? What if every day was Thanksgiving for me? How would that change my thinking, my behavior, my focus? No, I’m not suggesting that we eat every day the way we eat on Thanksgiving… that would definitely not be good for anyone. But is there a way to partake in the feeling of Thanksgiving every day? And as Christians, how could that impact the way people view the message that Christians are called to share?
It feels like every day I am disheartened to read negative stories that label Christians as too “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” or “un-welcoming.” Unfortunately, it seems like the criticisms are too often well-earned. But what would happen if Christians spent more time and energy simply being grateful to God? I doubt anyone would be repelled by too much “thanks” from those “Thanksgiving People.” Being intentional about acknowledging with thanks, all that we have, is life changing ‒ life changing for us and for the people around us. And when someone gets to a place in their life where they are truly “just thankful” for what they have been given, it’s a lot easier to actually follow Rule #2.
Ty Gomez is a NorthPark Presbyterian ruling elder, chair of the Communications Committee, and soccer dad. In his spare time, he practices law, plans more unfinished woodworking projects, and cooks for the women in his home.