What N.T. Wright said, part 26

November 23, 2012

N.T. Wright. I’m sure it would be O.K. for the Right Reverend to loosen his collar.

I’m preaching this week on another classic thanksgiving text, Luke 17:11-19, the healing of the ten lepers and the one who returned to Jesus to say thanks. The grateful leper was a double-outsider—he not only had a disease that ostracized him from society, he was also a Samaritan, considered a heretic and half-breed by that same society. Yet only this outsider responded properly to God’s saving work.

It is not only the nine ex-lepers who are shown up. It is all of us who fail to thank God ‘always and for everything’, as Paul puts it (Ephesians 5.20). We know with our heads, if we have any Christian faith at all, that our God is the giver of all things: every mouthful of food we take, every breath of air we inhale, every note of music we hear, every smile on the face of a friend, a child, a spouse—all that, and a million things more, are good gifts from his generosity. The world didn’t need to be like this. It could have been far more drab (of course, we have often made it dull and lifeless, but even there God can spring surprises). There is an old spiritual discipline of listing one’s blessings, naming them before God, and giving thanks. It’s a healthy thing to do, especially in a world where we too often assume we have an absolute right to health, happiness and every possible creature comfort.[†]

How does what we “know in our heads” become part of what we know and feel in the deepest recesses of our hearts? We can’t fake being grateful, after all—I mean, not in the long run. Either we are or we aren’t.

I want to be a genuinely grateful person. I’m sure my sermon on Sunday will struggle with these sorts of questions.

N.T. Wright, Luke for Everyone (Louisville: WJK, 2004), 206.

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