All Things New - 11.21.2017

"If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors."

- James 2:8-9

The Thanksgiving holiday is later this week! Are you excited? It's one of my favorites.

Growing up, I especially enjoyed Thanksgiving Dinner at my grandparents’ house. It was, in many ways, a Norman Rockwellian scene. My grandparents were dairy farmers blessed with a large extended family, beautiful farmhouse, and super long dinner table that could accommodate everyone but the smallest of the grandchildren. Of course, for the little ones, there was always the "kids' table."

We would all arrive in the early afternoon, just in time to enjoy some appetizers and watch a little football on television. I usually tried to grab a good seat at the table before everyone else sat down. 

Looking back, it was quite natural to share an affinity with certain members of the family over others. Shared interests, memories, and so on made some conversations a little easier. 

However, when grandpa and grandma called everyone to the table for dinner, we all sat, rejoiced, held hands, and gave thanks together. We knew that whatever differentiated us from one another absolutely paled in comparison to what we had in common. We were family. Differences were fine. Division was not. 

This past Sunday, our church celebrated Thanksgiving with a delicious meal following worship. Looking around our gymnasium (where we held the gathering), I saw all kinds of people in our church family. We have Anglos, Latinos, Asians, African-Americans, and more. Some are young; others are old. Some are probably wealthy; others are probably of more modest means. Some are probably highly educated; others probably have little formal education. Some are charter members of our church; others are brand new. No doubt, some are Democrats; others are Republicans. I could go on and on.

The differences are as numerous as they are fine. Why? Because, by God's grace, we're family! Whatever differentiates us from one another absolutely pales in comparison to what we have in common: God's great love in Jesus Christ. When our Father calls us to worship and fellowship, like my grandma and grandpa calling me to Thanksgiving dinner so many years ago, he reminds us of our common identity as members of one big family.

Child of God: It's quite natural to gravitate toward those with whom we share a natural affinity. We "click" with some more easily than others. That is just fine!

What's not in step with the Spirit and in line with the gospel is turning a "click" into a "clique." We are one big family, and God wants us to make sure, as much as it depends upon us, that every member feels loved and included. When we do, it's a better picture of the gospel than even Norman Rockwell could paint. I saw that on Sunday, and it's one of the things for which I'll be giving thanks later this week.  

You're loved. Don't forget it. 

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