Is optimism overrated?
When we look to the future does it help to have a sense of optimism? Is it too much Pollyanna kind of thinking to say that the future holds good things? Is it even biblical? The Bible says that the future of this world will be one filled with nations going to war against nations, violence and destruction are a given, there will be those who work hard to deceive the people and take hold of the power and use it for selfish gain. Is optimism irrational in the face of such a world outlook? I guess it depends on why you are optimistic, how far your vision sees into the future, and what you are optimistic about.
Yesterday was another good day at Asbury. Having moved our time form 8:30 to 9:00 for our early service seems to have made a difference. We had a great crowd and saw many people who had been away for some time. The late service had new folks as well. I watched as people connected again with friends they had not seen. I observed some guests who were back visiting again this week being engaged in conversation by more than one person. I heard a story told about a visitor who came Sunday morning and returned Sunday night bringing her kids to Live Wires Kids Club. When she came in she was greeted by those who were making blankets (and, by the way, I loved being able to bless that big pile of blankets that were completed!). But not only was the family greeted they were asked if they needed help finding their way. Based on the conversation, one person took the mom to the group who gathers each Sunday evening to play dominoes (and if you see Peggy Humphrey give her a big smile and a high five – she blessed the mom, the group, and all of us who get to share the story).
Am I optimistic even in the face of an uncertain future? Yeah, I am. You see, our optimism is not based on the hope that someday everyone will get along, we’ll all have a nice home and a safe world. Our optimism is based on the truth that God continues to be at work. Our hope for the future does not depend on the circumstances we face in this world, but instead it is grounded in the truth that the God who created this universe walks with us through every moment. Our positive outlook grows out of our faithful knowledge that even in tough times God moves in and through those who believe in him, that God will give us a peace that passes understanding and a joy that defies explanation.
That’s the hope I have because I see what happens around Asbury UMC. I am optimistic not because we have lots of good people in our church, but because we have a good God who is moving in the lives of faithful people. The power of the future is a power that is beyond our own. The power we have for the future is the very power of God – and with that in mind, how could our optimism ever be questioned? The God who sent his son to die for us is the God who raised him up from the dead. Good Friday was anything but good for Jesus, but Easter and new life could not have happened without it. Praise God that he was always in control and the future of Jesus life was secure.
How can we be optimistic? Easy – even though it may feel at times like Good Friday and being hung on a cross, Easter and resurrection and new life is coming. If you have a hard time believing that, just hang out at Asbury for a while, I promise you’ll find the overwhelming positive presence of God.
Holy high-five to you, Mike