7 Ways to Live Positively in a Negative Culture
We live in an increasingly negative culture and it’s easy to be dragged down with all the discouraging and depressing events that flood our hearts and overwhelm our minds.
I believe Christians have a huge opportunity to be counter-cultural missionaries in this dark day by demonstrating the positive power of the Gospel in their lives. But how is this possible? How do we maintain a positive life and witness in the face of so much negativity? Let me suggest seven areas to work on in our lives, in our families, and in our ministries:
1. More God than man: Keep God in the foreground rather than human beings. Think and talk more about God than about anyone else. Bring Him into every conversation and every area of your life. When human words and deeds are dragging you down, turn your thoughts towards God’s gracious Word and God’s glorious deeds.
2. More truth than lies: Although we must identify, expose, and warn about error, the greater proportion of our words should be about promoting the truth. There are so many lies around that we could easily spend all our time combatting them, only to find another seven appear for every one we decapitate. We, and those we minister to, need to hear God’s truth positively expounded and applied.
3. More objective than subjective: I love to talk, write, read, and hear about the heights and depths of Christian experience. However, if our subjective experience begins to push out the objective facts of the gospel, we are doomed to sink. Sanctification is wonderful, but justification is even more wonderful.
4. More future than past: Christianity is a religion of history. Without the facts of history, we have no Christ to believe in and no cross to atone for our sins. We cannot look back at that history enough. However, we can often look back at our own personal history too much - a history of disappointing failure and deep frustration. That’s why we have to keep a future orientation to our faith. The best truly is yet to be. We have a great hope waiting to be realized. Look forward more than backward.
5. More heaven than hell: As we look forward, two destinations rise on the horizon - heaven and hell. We cannot ignore or deny either reality. Thinking about both have a vital place in the Christian life and in motivating service and evangelism. However, if we are to maintain a positive outlook, our thoughts and words should be more taken up with heaven than hell. Is that true of your sermons, preacher?
6. More New Testament than Old Testament: I love the Old Testament and believe that it teaches the same way of salvation as the New Testament: salvation by grace alone through faith alone in God’s promised Messiah alone. But, no matter how brightly the gospel shines there, relative to the New Testament it is still in the shadows. We can sometimes see more in the shadows than in the bright light, but as a rule we want to spend more time in the sun than in the shade.
7. More victory than struggle: If you are a preacher, what would a word cloud reveal about your view of the Christian life? Would the words “trial, suffering, struggle, persecution, backsliding, defeat, temptation, etc.,” be in big font, while the words, “victory, growth, maturity, progress, usefulness, fruit, service, opportunity, advance, encouragement” be so small that they are unreadable? If so, don’t be surprised if your hearers are mourning more than celebrating.
Notice that in all of the above it’s not an “either/or” contrast I’m arguing for; it’s a “more than” balance I’m aiming at. And I hope that these seven bullets will help you target and kill any negative imbalances in your life, allowing the positive gospel of grace to revive and refresh you; and many others through you too.