Grumpy Christians or Grateful Christians

"Ingratitude is not just a psychological issue . . . It is a sin. It is the hallmark of a life opposed to God." John Ortberg

Ungratefulness has become characteristic of much of society. We are losing the ability to say thankyou. When living in Italy it was normal to say "grazia" (thankyou), or "tante grazia" (many thanks), when someone did you a favour, served you a meal, brought you a glass of water. But interestingly, the person who was being thanked would then respond by saying "prego" (you are welcome). I like that.

In the late 1940s to the 1970s there was a huge migration of people from Europe to  Australia. Over three million adults plus children! Migrants from one particular country were notorious for complaining. They became know as  "Belly aching XXXX." Though their fare only personally cost them $10.00AUD, the balance being funded by the Government, they never, ever seemed to express any sense of gratitude. They were always winging about something. Yet they were far better off in Australia than if they had remained in their country of origin. Sad.

Our focus has a lot to do with our equilibrium. Piaget reasoned that if a person experienced too much agitation their equilibrium became chaotic and in this state all growth, learning and development is stifled. Yet without some agitation in life, a person is in a state of stagnation. Research shows that while a person is passive, their minds not activity engaged, their motivation nil, their emotions unmoved, no real growth, change, transformation, development, or learning takes place.

Our ability to cope well with new challenges is closely linked to our foundational learning. The research of Piaget shows that our cognitive development has two main aspects: Assimilation and Accommodation. He found that a person is born with an active mind. Intelligence, although limited by its genetic propensity, grows and develops through interaction with the environment.

Assimilation refers to taking into itself material, facts, information, internalizing the data. Accommodation refers to how the mind accommodates new data. 

Piaget shows there is no accommodation/assimilation without experience.  Through experiences we receive new data.  This new data creates tension, or a state of disequilibrium, as the mind has to now readjust to new information, process it, assimilate it, and if it is to use it, relate it to previous knowledge or concepts.  This process then creates a state of equilibrium.

Piaget found that unless new data can be conceptually related to previous information, the person really does not learn anything.  There is no real assimilation, the material is not accommodated. Then depending on the experience, leaves the person confused, unable to make sense of the event. The importance of using Piaget's work for Christian Education is that it is better to teach/preach conceptually than through mass information.

Notice how God prepares in advance a church that is living in a city that will be destroyed by an earthquake in about 3-4 years. God prepares them by having a letter sent to the church at Colossae. They don't know, the writers of the letter doesn't know, what is just over the horizon. But the content of the letter will assist them immensely in coming to terms with this devastating earthquake that will ruin their city and turn their lives upside down.

Key to surviving and maintaining their equilibrium in the face of such huge losses is their focus on Christ. Being anchored in who God genuinely is. What it means to be transferred from one kingdom, the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of light, the kingdom where Jesus Christ rules.

The letter written to the church at Colossae, preserved for us in the Christian Bible, is saturated with Christian concepts. It is understanding these concepts, absorbing them so that they become part and parcel of the person, that will anchor them and sustain them in the face of overwhelming odds. It's not just that they will emotionally survive and mentally come to terms with what has happened, but they will be able to develop a spirit of realistic thankfulness!

Too often we get mired in the bog of self-pity, despondency, confusion, left wondering what have we done to deserve such loss? Why us? Why me? The disciples of Jesus, faced with what seemed like certain drowning, grab Jesus, roughly wake him, shouting: "Don't you care that we perish?" Can't you imagine the Christians in Colossae, standing on the rubble of their now dead city crying out: "God, don't you care about us?"

Notice the concepts being underlined in this letter. Absorb into yourself what the Bible is saying to us today. “we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honour and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. 

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (Colossians 1:9–14 NLT-SE)

Again: "May you be encouraged, and find out more and more how strong are the bonds of Christian love.  May you grow more certain in your knowledge and more sure in your grasp of God himself.  May your spiritual experience become richer as you see more fully God's great secret, Christ himself!  For it is in him, and in him alone, that we will find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."  Colossians 2:2-3  J. B. Phillips

Get your focus, mindset and desires in line with living in the kingdom of light. Focus your hearts, minds, desire on Christ."If you are then "risen" with Christ, reach out for the highest gifts of Heaven, where Christ reigns in power. Give your heart to the heavenly things, not to the passing things of earth.

"For, as far as this world is concerned, you are already dead, and your true life is a hidden in God, through Christ. One day, Christ, real centre of our lives, will show himself openly, and you will all share in that magnificent denouement.

"In so far, then, as you have to live upon this earth, consider yourselves dead to worldly priorities: have nothing to do with sexual immorality, dirty-mindedness, uncontrolled passion, evil desire, and the lust for other people's goods, remember greed is the serious sin of idolatry. It is because of these very things that the holy anger of God falls upon those who refuse to obey him. And never forget that you had your part in those dreadful things when you lived in that futile, empty way of life.

"But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge, in the image of its Creator

In this new man of God's design there is no distinction between Greek and Hebrew, Jew or gentile, foreigner or savage, slave or free man. Christ is all that matters for Christ lives in every Christian.

"As, therefore, God's picked representatives of the new humanity, purified and deeply love by God himself, be merciful in action, kindly in heart, humble in mind. Accept life, and be most patient and tolerant with one another, always be ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone. Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you.

"And, above everything else, be truly loving, for love is the golden chain of all the virtues. Love binds everything together.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, remembering that as members of the one body you are called to live in harmony, and never forget to be thankful for what God has done for you.

"Let the word of Christ live richly among you as you teach and counsel each other with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude/thankfulness in your hearts to God.

"And whatever work you may have to do, what ever you have to say, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him." Colossians 3:1-17.

Any Christian who absorbs these concepts so that they mould their whole outlook on life, their value system, controls their thinking and behaviour, will be a joyful, grateful Christian

Keith Graham