In a recent Facebook status, one of my “friends” posted the fact that she “hates the news.” The status went on to list the litany of negative and downright heartbreaking news stories that aired in a brief segment of a CNN program. Today I was reading the Post and was struck by the same reality. Even stories that were about positive things like a new school year were infused with a negative undercurrent.
Only two months ago I started a page on my blog that I intended to be an effort to counter the negative news. The fact of the matter is that in two months, I have only made three posts to the page. Surely there was a whole lot more good things happening in the world over the last two months. I wish I could blame the fact that it takes too much time or effort, but sharing a story is pretty easy. The fact of the matter is that I have allowed the bad news to overshadow the good. It takes work to find the good news in the midst of all the negative reports.
Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh comes to mind when I think about what this negative view of the world does to us. The Wikipedia description of Eeyore states, “He is generally characterized as a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, anhedonic. (Anhedonic– is defined as the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable.) How often do we find ourselves in the mind of Eeyore?
I don’t want to downplay the suffering or struggle people are going through in the world. Right now there are those who are fighting for their lives. Nevertheless, we should also find ways to affirm that even in the midst of the harsh realities of the world, God is doing good things. We can’t bury our heads in the sand and not see what is going on, but we should also not allow the bad to eclipse the good.
Actually, I think this struggle is the very nature of our Christian faith. We use the word Gospel or Good News to describe what it is that we testify to. The work God has done and is doing through Jesus Christ is Good News. We all know what the bad news is… Sin and Death. So how do we counter the bad news with the Good News? Again, I don’t think we can do this as an exclusive deal. Our understanding of good must be informed by the reality of the bad. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings about hope if it is shown to be the counter to the hopelessness of sin.
There is a danger in only focusing on the good in the world. Even today there are preachers who offer a cheap hope that leaves followers in despair when hard times hit. Yet, I believe that we need to work towards telling the world that there is good news and The Good News.
I recently realized that I have made a dynamic shift in my proclamation of the Gospel. I have become an optimist. I used to approach the Gospel through a negative and perhaps cynical lens. Over my time in ministry, I have realized that this has not only clouded my interpretation of Scripture, but has cast a pall over the response that members have been able to make. I also see negative views having a severe effect on the Church. The latest generations of adults have continually received negative messages about and from the Church. I think we need to take serious the need to present the Gospel and the Body of Christ called the Church in a positive and hopeful light.
I remember when I was in the process for preparation for ministry, one of the criticisms I received was that I often failed to “stop and smell the roses.” This is a discipline I have had to learn. Even in a world of despair and negativity, the roses still smell sweet and show great beauty. How are you not only smelling the rose but drawing others attention to them?