by Johnny Carlton
Copyright 2012 Johnny Giesbrecht
Johnny Carlton is a writer of suspense thrillers available as e-books at www.amazon.com
We’ve heard a lot about the importance of being positive in our lives, rather than negative–in our thinking, in our feeling. Books have been written about it. I think they’ve been mostly secular, although a fair amount of Christian material has also been produced on this important subject.
What does it mean to be positive? What does it mean to be negative? What are the results of lifestyles based on either one? How do we get to be one or the other? A lot could be said about what constitutes being positive or negative, but let’s try to boil it down to the most important elements. In doing so we’ll see how utterly important the issue becomes.
To be positive means to be victorious, powerful, happy, and good. To be negative means to be a failure, to be weak, to be miserable, to be evil. Quite a contrast, isn’t there? Important? Yes, extremely important.
This being the case, one would think that a great deal of prayer, thought, and mental-spiritual effort, on the part of Christians, would go into acquiring a positive nature. Is this the case? It doesn’t seem to be. It seems, rather, that most of us are content to occasionally remind ourselves that it’s important to be positive, and then go on much as we have been up to that point: being positive part of the time and being negative part of the time, being victorious and loving part of the time, and being selfish failures part of the time, being happy part of the time and being depressed part of the time, and so on.
Jesus once asked the question: “… when the Son of Man (himself) comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b NIV. My word in parenthesis.) It seems that Jesus was talking about his second coming, and I think there was a positive warning for us in those words. I know that when I read them, I tend to look at the present situation regarding my own faith and the faith of my spiritual brothers and sisters, and start thinking about what we could do to improve things.
Born-again people, who have the power of Christ living in them, are supposed to be the distinct leaders in the field of being positive. I think we are; nevertheless, since the competition is pretty lightweight, we don’t have a lot to write home about. I would say that in general the positiveness of us Christians is pretty wishy-washy.
But let’s not forget that God doesn’t make us perfect in one day. He causes us to be born into his family the moment we fully put our trust in Jesus as our Savior, and after that begins the long process of growth of the new nature that God has given us, along with the simultaneous destruction of our old nature. This is wonderful and just the way God planned it. What should bother us is a situation in which the growth process slows to a halt, or a near halt.
Each of us can look at ourselves and ask: Am I the same person today that I was five years ago?–or can I see a substantial change for the better? If there hasn’t been much change, we can ask ourselves, “How positive do I really want to be?”
That doesn’t sound like such a dumb question, does it? Well, in a way it is and in a way it isn’t. It sounds kind of silly because naturally everyone should answer it by saying that they want to be completely positive; but it sounds kind of sensible in the light of present reality in which we see a great many Christians apparently quite satisfied with being in possession of a limited amount of positiveness.
Let’s get to the roots of this. At some point all Christians should ask themselves, “Do I want to be completely positive in this present life here on Earth or don’t I?” Rephrased: “Do I want to live a victorious Christian life all the time or just most of the time?” I hear someone saying, “Well, of course I want to be victorious all time, but I don’t think that’s possible.”
What an interesting statement that person has just made. The first part of his sentence is positive, the second part negative. There is a contradiction here.
Does it make sense, or is it even possible, to want something that you believe you can’t have? In a sense it is possible. There can be a certain kind of desire, or yearning, for things we assume we will never have; but in a different sense of the word want–the real basic meaning of the word–it is not possible to want something without thinking that there’s at least a chance that you’re going to get it. Look at it carefully: If you want something only in the sense that you know you’ll never have it, but you like to daydream about it, then what you really want is just that–you want to daydream about it; and that want is actually being fulfilled. You are daydreaming about it, so you’re really getting exactly what you want. I’m saying that there’s something logical about how the mind works after all, and it just isn’t reasonable to really want something that you fully believe you can’t have. Let’s look at it through the perspective of the word hope, in order to better understand the principle I’ve just put forward.
Is it possible to hope for something and at the same time believe that you won’t get it? No, because to hope for something is the exact opposite to believing that you won’t get it. When you cross a street, you have hope that you’ll get to the other side without being hit by traffic. If you didn’t think that there was any chance at all that you’d make it, you wouldn’t have any motivation to make the effort. When you decide to lift a cup of coffee to your lips, you expect to accomplish it; without that motivation it would be impossible for you to make any effort to raise the cup. I’m saying that wanting something in a realistic sense–not in a daydreaming sense only–is the same as hoping for something. When you say, “I want it but I can’t have it,” you’re really saying, “I want to daydream about having it, but I don’t actually want it to become a reality for I know that won’t happen.” I think it’s logical to say that true desire and hope always go together.
I have read the Old Testament of the Bible twice, and the New Testament at least five times, without counting all the in-between studying of that great book that it’s impossible to keep track of. I know this isn’t a very impressive record; some Christians have read through the Bible up to eighty times or more. Nevertheless, I think I’m safe to say that nowhere in the Bible can be found any suggestion that Christians are to become partly good in this life here on Earth, but remain partly evil. Nor does it say that we are supposed to become as high as ninety-nine percent good, but to make sure that we remain one percent evil–that one percent to be taken away on the day our bodies die and our souls go to Heaven. On the contrary, the Bible teaches emphatically that by the power of Christ living in us, we are to go all the way to perfection. The instruction of Jesus is: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 NIV) In 1 Corinthians 15:57, the same translation, we read: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Wouldn’t it be strange and unhappy if this scripture instead told us that God gives us a partial victory through our Lord Jesus Christ? Praise God that this is not the case, and that nowhere in the Bible will we ever find such an un-Godlike philosophy presented.
Yet there are many Christians who are convinced that for the rest of their earthly lives they must be controlled part of the time by their old, evil nature. They look forward, they say, to the time when this evil nature will be taken away, when they will be released from this “body of death” that regularly causes them to fall back into sin.
So far as I can make out, the Bible teaches that now, in this life here on Earth, is the time to totally defeat the old sinful nature–to do that by the power of Jesus working in us.
A completely positive person would, of course, not sin at all after he has accepted Jesus into his life. Sinning is negative behavior. But do we want to be that positive? Can we be that positive?
Well, the truth is that the power of Christ is infinite–it has no limits. Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NIV) And the good news of the Gospel is that it is God’s power that saves us, not our own; and it is God’s power that renews us, not our own. Therefore it follows that we can be completely victorious over sin by this Godly power.
The question, then, is not if we are able to be completely positive–but do we want to be?