Last Thanksgiving, while driving home to my parents, I heard a story on National Public Radio explaining why we call turkeys â€œturkeys.â€ After all, turkeys are indigenous to North America, so why are they named after a country in Eastern Europe? It seems it all began when turkeys were taken to England from the Americas in the 1500s. At this time, the English called anything foreign or alien â€œturkey,â€ regardless of its origin. Persian rugs were called â€œTurkish rugs.â€ Hungarian carpetbags were â€œTurkey bags,â€ etc. So when the British saw this strange looking bird from a foreign place, a â€œturkeyâ€ it was.
Christians are supposed to be turkeys. We are supposed to live as foreigners and aliens in this world. Peter wrote, â€œDear friends, I urge you, as strangers and aliens (turkeys) in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soulâ€ (1 Peter 2:11). What Peter means is this world is not our home. We are, as the lyrics of the old hymn say, â€œjust a passing through.â€ Once we decide to follow Christ, we no longer live for the things of this world. Instead, we glorify God by living according to his standards. This means loving God with all our being, treating each other honorably, caring for the needy and protecting the earth, amongst a myriad of other things.
According to Peter, this isnâ€™t easy. A war wages against us as we try to live as turkeys. There are lots of things that distract us and try to keep us from living for God. During the holiday season itâ€™s especially easy to forget weâ€™re turkeys. On Thanksgiving we often get so wrapped up in the eating, shopping, family and football, we forget the reason we celebrate. Thanksgiving was designed to be a special day to give thanks to God for his provision, for his love and for his care. Yet how often do our Thanksgiving celebrations have anything more than a quick prayer before we dig in?
This Thanksgiving, I hope youâ€™ll remember youâ€™re a turkey and instead of simply stuffing yourself, that youâ€™ll truly give thanks to God for all his love.