Following the footsteps of Christ is the greatest place for a human being to flourish. Christ is the center of enjoyment, of true delight and peace.
Most of us inside and outside the Christian faith see Christianity as vacillating between a false understanding of stoicism avoiding of all the pleasures of life or an ecstatic expression of enjoyment. Many Christians never experience glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, and very few take on a life of self denial that does not affirm at least some good in the world around us, but still these images persist with negative connotations. The church is even sometimes viewed as a place of judgement instead of a place of grace.
But following Christ is meant to find a deeper enjoyment in Christ. This enjoyment is made complete in praise and thanksgiving. C.S. Lewis points out that the psalms exist to complete the enjoyment of God with thanksgiving and praise. Most of us struggle to be thankful, we find the negative and latch on to the faults in situations, ourselves, and others.
The problem is that we often consider ourselves to be just going with the flow, doing what’s natural, complaining only about those common sense things that are infringed upon. Christianity does not really have a space for a common sense or natural course of action that is not broken or corrupted in mankind, and as such, we have to see our actions in following Christ as part of the processes of being transformed to see more clearly.
This begins in the simple process of finding events, things, and people for which to give thanks.
Cognitively this forms us to see the good and helps form us in trust. Re-imaging the world in terms of thanks refocuses our hearts and minds. Instead of seeing the fault and flaws inherent in our character, our situations, and our neighbors our eyes are opened to see Christ in us, Christ in them, and Christ with us.
Thanksgiving forms the root that branches into a way of trusting the work of God in this world. That leads to peace – trusting that whether the answers to our prayers are yes or know that God will work to good all things. And here is where brutal honesty and justice seeking can really begin. It is in a place of trust that we can surrender ourselves to the work of God in hope.
The most desperate and depraved situation can be steadily worked against in love and peace because of the trust born of delight made complete in thanksgiving.