And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10 ESV)
Our world is full of negativity, hate, intolerance, depravity, violence, and darkness. A world filled with abuse of power. A world filled with poverty, injustice, death and even slavery. According to recent statistics every year 15 million children die of hunger. The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed one-third is starving. Since you’ve started reading this post at least 200 people have died of starvation and over 4 million will die this year.
Its a dark world out there son.
This isn’t just a problem in some far off country…its here in America as well, specifically my city of Detroit. A local news article reports that percentage of Detroit families living in poverty is more than three times the national rate, at 35.5 percent, compared to 11.7 nationwide. The percentage of children living in poverty is troubling nationwide, at 22.5 percent. But here in Detroit 57.3 percent. Over 75 percent of those living in Detroit over 25 years old have completed high school, compared to 85.9 percent nationwide. And 13 percent over 25 in Detroit hold bachelor’s degrees, compared to 28.5 percent in the U.S.
In a world so bad, it can become easy to be negative.
Now stop and think about the world Jesus was born into over two-thousand years ago. It wasn’t any better, in fact it was much worse. No modern medicine, education only for the wealthy, slaves and abuse ran the known world. War was seemingly existent on every major continent of the Mediterranean with no end in sight.
Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace, was under the dominance of the Roman war machine, a cruel and powerful task-master that delighted in crucifying its enemies. Into this world full of evil and cruelty, Jesus came bringing peace, hope, salvation and light in the darkness. Jesus came to change the world. His coming, and dying gave life, love and hope. God’s plan was a success because he came to change men from the inside out with his message of compassion, generosity, grace and truth.
In a world gone to hell, we need God.
Here in Detroit people are easily depressed. And it is easy to become negative. Its not easy to keep your faith when its tough. Giving up seems prevalent and often expected. Two years ago a friend and neighbor of mine killed himself in front of his kids. Last year after an addiction class at City Church one of our ladies went home and overdosed. A good friend of mine who I worked with for 5 years and spoke to on a weekly basis for the entirety, just left his wife and then killed himself.
I have counseled couples who have deeply hurt one another on purpose. I have done funerals for young and the old. I have sat across the table from parents who’s children were murdered. I’ve talked to countless unemployed. Just this past Christmas we gave presents to several hundred kids, some of whom lived in abandoned houses with no power or heat during the coldest winter we have had in recent years. I’ve talked with people who’s power has been shut off, just got an eviction notice and have no money. I personally know people who are totally stranded or seemingly destroyed by debt. I’ve had so many phone calls and conversations like this that it would send the average person literally crazy.
So how can we stay positive in a negative world?
The people of Jesus’ day are just like ourselves today…hungry for hope. We are desperate for someone to lift us up. We pray to God for better days. We wish for second chances and restored hopes and dreams. The answer to staying positive in a negative world is found in Jesus. We must pray to God and devote ourselves to Him. Here are three practical ways to stay positive in a negative world that I have learned from Jesus’ example:
- Don’t starve Spiritually
When Jesus was alone on the mountain, being tempted by the devil and being forsaken by the people…he remembered the promises found in scripture and prayed. Stay spiritually full. You’ll need it when your going thru hell, being tempted or are all alone.
- Live with Purpose
Jesus was always active in doing something and that something always had purpose. Aristotle wrote that “happiness is an activity”, meaning that people who are more active will be happier. While interests, hobbies, and staying busy are not the end all..you’ll notice that Jesus even when relaxing had a purpose for every event. Most people who are negative are reactionary, meaning that the ball bounces to them not from them.
Where did Jesus go? He went to wedding parties, to dinners, and spent time with family and friends. Yes Jesus also went to where the poor lived and much of his ministry was there, but that wasn’t all of it. We need balance. I meet many negative Christians and I wish for them to show the joy of Jesus.
I’m not always living life with a smile on my face, but I don’t have to wear a frown for long. Negativity spreads like a disease and is deadly once you get it. Keep yourself away from it. Be like Jesus. Stay positive.