But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
A couple of years ago, shortly after we had moved into our home here in Bethlehem, a generous and skilled friend came over to install an electrical outlet in my basement. Such things do not fall within the sphere of my spiritual gifts. I helped occasionally by handing him a needed tool. Mostly I helped by trying to stay out of the way.
I’m not sure when or how it happened, but somewhere along the way household projects became big entertainment. Americans are into their houses, both figuratively and literally. We stay in our houses and watch TV shows about what other people are doing to their houses. This feeds our desires to invest time and energy and money back into our own houses, so we can be more comfortable as we watch shows about freshly renovated houses.
Marnie and I call this ‘brain candy’ – and trust me, we watch our fair share.
I’ve noticed for some time that this house-based entertainment industry tells us about something far more significant than design and construction. The show may be about a house, but it’s showing us something about our souls. And what it shows us isn’t always attractive. Allow me to explain.
Entitled or Indebted?
Let’s go back a few years. In February of 2004 ABC aired a new series, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Over nine seasons this show garnered a massive following as each week a home was entirely renovated or rebuilt within a matter of days. In every episode the renovation project was connected to a story – usually a story of a family in need.
Yes, most of the hour featured design plans and monumental feats of reconstruction, but the real drama was at the end of the hour when the renovated home was revealed to the family. The format of the show was no secret. You knew what would happen. Still, every time a family was presented with their newly renovated home I found the moment deeply moving. They were being given something they could have never attained on their own.
Things have changed a bit over the past fourteen years. First of all, there are many more shows that entertain us with renovation and design. House-flipping has become intense drama. House-hunting keeps us on the edge of our seats wondering what property the befuddled buyers will choose. When people are paying for what they want, they tend to be a little more demanding. They have a ‘wish list.’ If they can afford to pay, they can afford to be picky.
Back in the day of Extreme Makeover, the work being done on the house was done as a gift. The gift was the driving narrative. The presentation of the gift was the high-point of the show (“Bus driver, move that bus”). But now the shows are more about our wants and how our wants fit our budgets. The story is more about our quest to get the perfect place and fulfill our dreams.
While not missing entirely, what we see far less of these days is gratitude. That’s what our fascination with house-based entertainment exposes about our souls. We are more inclined to be entitled people than we are thankful people. We see our lives as something we worked hard for, something we deserve, or something we’ve rightly obtained because we paid for it. Our pride grows. Our gratitude shrivels.
All of Life Is a Gift
Thankfulness is our fitting response to a gift. And the very moment we forget that life is a gift is the moment we forget to be thankful.
At the heart of our faith is a story about the love of God freely given to us in Jesus. Perhaps without meaning to, or without knowing it, we sometimes speak as if God loves us because there’s something in us that’s innately loveable. “Of course God loves me . . . why would he not?” The Bible’s story, however, is quite different. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
When we were indifferent or even hostile to God, God loved us. Jesus did not die for former sinners. He died for those who were and are ‘still sinners.’ His love for us isn’t something we deserve, nor is it something we’ve earned by our exemplary lives. What’s more, having received God’s gift in Jesus we don’t have to live our days trying to pay God back. That’s something we could never do.
The good news of the Christian faith is that God freely does an ‘extreme makeover’ on us. And the only response that makes sense is gratitude.
In all things, merciful God, we are utterly dependent upon you for your grace. Every breath, every moment of every day comes to us as a gift. And your love comes to us the same way – not earned or paid for by what we do, but freely given in Jesus as we trust in him. Make us thankful people, we ask in his name. Amen.
7 thoughts on “Our Fitting Response”
Oh how I miss your writings, Mark. Dear Heavenly Father, let me be one of yours who is full of thankfulness for all you have given me. You give me your love, grace, compassion, peace, encouragement, hope, forgiveness and a place for me in Heaven. My earthly life is only temporary. The best for me is yet to come. What a day it will be for me to be with you in my Heavenly home. AMEN Thank you, Mark, for this reminder.
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Thank you, Mark, love your devotionals. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Marnie!
Thank you Mark. It’s always such a great day when we receive your gift of devotion. Hope you and Marnie and the family have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Thankful for your sharing your giftedness in words and a channel for Love.
Thank you, Mark. Happy thanksgiving to you and family.
Excellent devotional! And Happy Thanksgiving to you, Marnie, John, & Anna!
Thank you, Mark for this wonderful reminder to be thankful for all things especially God’s love and mercy. Know you and y our family had a wonderful Thanksgiving wi th your young people home. Give my love to Marie. Patsy
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