One of the very first praise songs my daughter Salina learned in the Christian pre-school she attended was the same classic that I learned when I was her tender age.
Jesus loves me, this I know
'Cause the Bible tells me so
Chances are this is the first praise song most of us learned, especially if we grew up in and around the church. Interestingly enough, these innocent words of this simple children's song contain two of the most basic yet strategic reasons for being a Christian optimist.
First, the song gives us the basic premise of the gospel message right out of the gate, "Jesus loves me, this I know." Christian optimism begins with the fundamental biblical truth that God loves us, whether or not we deserve it. The fact that I am loved by God (as are you) is the crown jewel of the gospel and the cornerstone of Christian optimism.
"For God so loved the world"
So begins the most famous verse in scripture. Along with the simple praise song we have been talking about, I suspect that John 3:16 is one of the first Bible verses we came in contact with. Just as in the Jesus Love Me hymn, the message here is that God loves us in a way that we can't imagine. He loves us enough to offer up the greatest sacrifice that can be offered and, tied to our belief in this truth, comes the incredible love gift of eternal life.
"Shall never perish, but have everlasting life."
I don't know about you, but sometimes I have to pause, pray a little, and let the enormity of the implications of this all-too-familiar passage of scripture truly sink in.
"Shall never perish, but have everlasting life."
With the promise of such an incredible gift flowing out of God's heart of divine love, how can we be anything but optimistic? In fact, I think anything short of radical optimism in response to what God has done may be right on the cusp of sin.
As Christians we often hear about God's love for us but perhaps it is the very frequency at which these words, "God's love," are spoken that make us deaf to the real message here. Unlike other religions and belief systems, Christians worship a God that is proactive in his desire for us to enter into a life-giving and life-changing relationship with him. Remember the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son? He didn't just sit at home hoping that his wayward child would some day find his way home. No, the father lived in faith and positive expectancy. As a result, he went out to a place that overlooked the road and waited in anticipation for that tiny speck to appear on the horizon and, as the speck drew closer and grew larger, he ran out to meet his prodigal. It is this kind of proactive love on the part of God that makes our human capacity to love even possible.
John, who liked to call himself "the disciple whom Jesus loved" tells us, "We love because he first loved us." As we can clearly see from this scripture, not only is our optimism grounded in God's love, but also our capacity to love itself.
In closing, let me say that if you are seeking justification for Christian optimism, just turn to scripture. The Bible is filled with reasons, stated in ways direct and sublime, which give us great cause to be optimistic. If you happen to be person with a long history of pessimism or thinking that gravitates toward the negative, take specific scriptures that give you reason to be optimistic and read them over and over. Turn them into positive statements and use these powerful scriptures as affirmations. Doing this is a standard part of what we at Sacred Mind Ministries call 'proactive prayer."
Here is an example. Philippians 4:13 tells us, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Also, 2 Corinthians 5:17 affirms that, "anyone who belongs to Christ is a new creation. The old life is gone and the new life has begun." Turning this pair of powerful scriptures into a positive, proactive prayer, you might say:
I take possession of the reality that in Christ I am a new creation and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
If so moved, you might even add:
Behold, the old life has passed away and my new life has begun.
Repeating these positive, proactive and affirmative prayers repeatedly helps sink the potent words of scripture deep into your subconscious mind, bring a healing presence and a voice counter to those old negative tapes that have been playing for so long. Granted, change won't come overnight but believe me, friend, it will come. Few people went through life more negative than I did. I could find a dark lining in any silver cloud and often did. God's grace, working through the personhood of the blessed Holy Spirit, has helped me heal many of those deep-seated scars in my psyche. Don't doubt the process of positive repetition of scripture it will work wonders.
As they say in the Nike ads Just Do It!
L.D. Turner 2009/All Rights Reserved
Dwight Turner is founder of LifeBrook Communications, a ministry which produces and publishes web content on a variety of faith-based themes. LifeBrook may be viewed at:
All material: (c) L.D. Turner/All Rights Reserved
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