Not very "seeker sensitive" of him, but when Paul wants to talk about the Good News, he starts out with lots and lots of bad news (Romans 1:18ff.).
The apostle's opening salvo against humanity begins with the global cause in "all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth" (v. 18), and ends with a damning list of effects (vv. 28-31), and the summary statement: "Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them" (v. 32).
Towards the beginning, Paul memorably styles mankind as anapologetous, "incapable of defense," "without defense, "without excuse" (v. 20). He presents this as the result of God's self-revelation in creation; and then Paul further explains their indefensibility in v. 21 -- "because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor did they give thanks." The "as God" is put forward syntactically; you could woodenly render it, "they did not as God glorify nor thank."
God is owed glory and thanks. It is His due, it is fitting, it simply follows from the majesty of His being. Paul does not here give further reasons; J. B. Phillips' paraphrase says "to thank him for what he is or does," but the apostle does not. Simply because He is God, before He says or does one thing, He is inherently worthy of glory, and worthy of thanks.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving in America, and I'm sure some of us chuckle a bit, as we do at the Day of Prayer. As if a husband had "kiss the wife" on a list of things to do once a day, so once a year we say we are supposed to do what we really should be doing every day of the year -- praying, and saying "Thank You." If we only do it that one day, and only because Washington, Congress, or whoever said that we should, the reality of the day is questionable.
But our society can't hold on to even such a simple, basic concept. One of the earliest lessons we have to teach our children is to say "Thank you," and we think a person graceless if he hasn't learn that lesson -- on the horizontal plane. But on the vertical? Our society gives a bye. Many of us are far too clever even to say "Thanksgiving," so we call it "Turkey Day." Even if we can choke out the word "thanks," we botch it.
The convivial Martha Stewart, according to a comment by Tracy over at my blog, said something like, "We have a lot to be thankful for in this country. We owe a lot of thanks to the farmers who provide our wonderful produce like these beautiful cranberries." And we've all heard of government indoctrination centers ("public schools"), in which the children are taught that the purpose of Thanksgiving was to thank the Indians for teaching survival skills. Often enough, one sees moderating, vague statements such as "we should all be thankful," or "Americans express gratitude" -- which, if it were submitted as an essay in our non-government school, would be greeted with a curt "to whom or what?" In red ink.
The real attitude of too many was doubtless expressed in the prayer of that great sage Bart Simpson: "Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing." Good luck and hard work, those are our real benefactors.
Only by the Biblical vision of God can and do we see the crude, low, even treacherous nature of this attitude of ingratitude.
- You paid for it yourself? How is it that you had "all this stuff" to buy, in the first place? God (Acts 14:17).
- Your hard work? Who is it who even gives you the breath you breathe, let alone the health you enjoy? God (Daniel 5:23; cf. James 4:13-17).
- Your stable economy? Who is it who appoints your leaders, and gives you a stable economy, if you have one? God (Psalm 75:7; Daniel 2:21; 4:25; Romans 13:1-5).
- Your "good luck"? What's that? There is no such thing. There is only a God who controls all things, down to the roll of the dice (Psalm 115:3; Proverbs 16:33).
- You have a knowledge of God and Christ? Where did that come from, but a sovereign act of God (Matthew 11:27)?
- You have the least spiritual life in your breast? And how did you manage that? You didn't. It comes straight from the hand of God (Ephesians 2:1f.)
- You have saving faith? And how did that happen to a God-hating rebel, if not by a work of God's grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 1:29)?
- You have glimmers of holiness, of any sort, in your life? And how can an unholy wretch produce that? He cannot. It is a result of the eternal, sovereign election of God (Ephesians 1:4).
- You cling to Christ for your salvation, you persevere in faith? And how do you, weak and unable to do anything in yourself (John 15), work that out? You do it by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5).
...and I really think we should.
That's my point.