A Call to Optimism
Never in my life would I have imagined writing an article exhorting the church to be optimistic. I've touted myself as a realist for the past decade. If I was truly being realistic, I have been more of a pessimist, yet here I find myself on the precipice of perhaps the most critical time for the American, church clinging to the necessity of this same optimism I have mocked for the entirety of my adult life. The church's message is not one of despair. Our message is of hope.
Pessimism, if not already there, is becoming the norm for society. If something can go wrong, it inevitably will go wrong. All of our leaders are corrupt. Hate will always be prevalent. There is no solution to our problems. This is the reality painted by modernity, and there seems to be little to no hope that things will get better. Anxiety, fear, and depression are running rampant, and as each generation enters into adulthood, these pains only become more abundant.
This is why it is absolutely imperative that the modern church, specifically the American church, exudes the optimism Scripture teaches us to have. We have no more room for pessimist takes of our current condition because we know that the hope we have is the cure for despair. The world around us is struggling to find something of which to grasp hold, yet we often times sit in agreement with the world, using our grumbling to add to the already insurmountable pile of issues. This is unacceptable.
Christ did not die on the cross, so that we can complain about our dismal future.
How can we sit back and preach doom and gloom because so and so is elected president when we have a Lord and Savior who conquered death for us? How can we put further strain such a fragile psyche of a nation crumbling from disunity and division? If we put so much stock in leaders, government, events, or even humankind itself, we are exposing our own lack of faith in the sovereign God we talk up in our social media posts but disregard in our spiritual lives. Our hope does not diminish because a certain individual was elected president. It does not diminish if our rights are taken from us. It does not even diminish in the midst of persecution. Do any of these separate us from Christ? Paul answers, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39)
Paul was convinced that the hope of the gospel does not diminish in the face of hardship. If we are to be this beacon of hope that the church should be, we also need to be convinced of God's overwhelming love, sovereignty, and command in every context. No event, past, present, or future, can ever dim the message of the gospel, and we need to be the present embodiment of hope and joy that will truly reach the lost and hopeless.
We have a choice. We can jump on the bandwagon of doom and gloom. We can contribute to the uproar of pessimism that is becoming louder and louder in our nation. Or, we can stand as a bastion of hope against the coming darkness. We can hold fast to the truth and hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can be optimistic.