"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Monday, November 28, 2011

Are you positive?

     It's common in today's age to hear of circumstances qualified as positive or negative. Didn't get that raise? That's a negative. Your political favorite is twelve points down in the polls? Another negative. Electric bill over $200 dollars? Probably a negative but if $37 less than a year ago then that's a positive. Prom was a disaster and the evidence is on youtube? Double negative. Bad karma. Yin and Yang are out of whack. Got through lunch without spilling ketchup on your shirt? That's a positive. Home equity exceeds mortgage balance? That's a positive.

    Doing a search of "positive" and "negative" in the bible does not return any hits. But then again, the same can be said for searching the word "trinity." The Doctrine of the Trinity is clearly expressed in the Bible even though the particular term is not used outright. "Positive" and "negative" though might be argued to be interchangeable in the Bible with terms such as "good" or "blessed." That's fine. I would suggest though that incorporating these terms into one's oft-used vocabulary is likely counterproductive despite not being confusing.

    In the humanistic culture that Americans find themselves in, using "positive" and/or "negative" to express one's outlook on anything has the tendency to encourage an analysis of circumstances in the context of one's personal and tiny universe. The examples at the beginning of this article are me-centric in nature, and not situations that cause one to look at the big picture--of God working out all things according to the counsel of His will. While there's nothing wrong with loving oneself, and indeed that is necessary, it's easy to spin off towards self-centeredness if there's an unhealthy preoccupation with self. Interpreting life through the positive and negative lens is much more likely to do that rather than to speak of sovereignty, providence, authority, omnipotence, omniscience, favor, covenant, divine and other like terms that more clearly define our existence.

  Understandably, non-Christians will certainly interpret life's events as positive or negative because their nature dictates such. The Christian that uses those terms though can expect to foment confusion and error, and miss opportunities to declare God's workings in very subtle ways. The giants of the faith--Abraham, Job, David, Noah, Daniel, Joseph, Paul, Peter, Stephen and others, certainly experienced things that outsiders would deem "negative." In God's perfect ways though, their experiences have benefitted us today immeasurably. So was Moses being left for dead in the river "negative?" When David caught glimpse of Goliath did he mutter, "Whoops. He's huge. That's a negative?"Did Paul gain anything watching Stephen get pounded to death? Noah saved the animal kingdom while being a laughing stock to the world. Joseph was a family outcast yet rose to a prominent place in Pharaoh's inner circle and got many people through s famine. Things that seemed negative to them then were certainly mischaracterized once hindsight came into focus. Paul reminds those enduring trials that they are necessary to equip them to comfort others.

   If the Great Depression looks like Happy Days in twenty years how will we rate the 2020s? If the Euro fails how will that be quantified? Things are what they are. God is sovereign. God is providential. We are his witnesses and under rowers. We are not the world's judge and we won't live to be 110 and dunk a basketball the day before we climb into our coffin with a milkshake in one hand and a tank of oxygen in the other. Life is messy. People have problems and inject their problems into our lives while we try to watch football with the iphone on mute. Circumstances that chaff us to no end encircle us with an appetite unappeased. Getting away from the prolific use of "positive" and "negative" might go a long way towards resolving lots of anxiety, agitation, angst, depression, malaise, foolishness and aberrant behaviors.

  Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Let you words be few. God is good but God is not mocked. Walk circumspectly because the days are evil. Be kind, one to another.

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