2015-07-21 - False Positives
A few weeks ago, after church, a friend said something to me that God used, to start the wheels turning in my brain. She said that on Facebook©, she has a couple friends that send her posts about what she considers negative or bad news, so she marks it "don't want to see this any more." She said she just didn't want to hear anything bad. I also hear similar comments about the news being "negative." We even have one friend who has stopped watching news altogether. I have thought about this for awhile, and about how sad that is. Because if we shut ourselves off like the proverbial "ostriches in the sand," we lose a lot of chances to be a blessing to someone, and we can thwart God's purposes in our lives. There are hurting people out there, and behind every event and every person considered "negative," I guarantee there is some pain that we as Christians could help to heal.
It's a denial process on the part of the listener, and the result of people taking "being positive" too far. Some of it can be lain at the feet of "health and wealth" preachers, who often deny that Christians should suffer or think anything about suffering. Whatever the origin of the attitude, it's certainly unBlblical.
You can't be a part of the solution, if you deny there's a problem. That goes for anything--hunger, gangs, greed, crime, you name it.
With a decade-and-a-half of working with crime victims in the criminal justice system in a large metro area, I have seen my share of the "dark side" of life. One time a victim was sitting with me as we waited for her case to be called. We sat through several seamy cases, and she said she didn't know how I could listen to this all day and retain a sweet spirit. She called me her hero, but I told her that no, SHE was the hero. She was there because her teenaged son had been killed, because a "Friend" thought he looked at him in a gay way. To me, there is a truly positive side of all that. While I can't change the horrible thing that happened to the victim - often while the defendant was high on illegal drugs - (don't ever fall for the naive belief that "drugs are a victimless crime") - I can help them work toward some closure, and then make their way toward what someone has called a "new normal." But positive = working in the real-life situation that cannot be denied, not turning off the news when something "negative" comes on the television.
By those "false positive" standards, Jesus, as well as both the Minor and Major Prophets would have been deemed negative, and "unfriended"© by many folks! God showed them problems, and they tried to educate people about them, to try to turn them around.
As one example, see my favorite prophet, Amos, Chapter 3, warning the people about the consequences of their greed:
declares the Lord, the Lord God Almighty. “On the day I punish Israel for her sins,
I will destroy the altars of Bethel;
the horns of the altar will be cut off
and fall to the ground. I will tear down the winter house
along with the summer house;
the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed
and the mansions will be demolished,”
declares the Lord.
Also, similarly, see Amos 8:8-12.
But indeed people in Biblical times were not always so different from our own times. For they mostly didn't want to listen, either.
Jesus was "negative" (by modern standards) about how the religious leaders were treating people (Matthew 4 and others), how they were being bad spouses (Again, Matthew 4 and other references), about people's greed, about the dangers of "inclustivity" (trendy today), when that includes unbiblical teaching (Matthew 7:15-23). He didn't ignore the news about violent crime; He realized those victims were valuable to God, and used them in a parable (which had a deeper meaning, but also has applicable truth on the surface, about meeting immediate needs).
As Romans 13 points out, those who obey have nothing to fear. In like manner, Micah promises justice. And I love how The Message© puts it in Micah2, "God Has Had Enough."
In Matthew 12:18, it was said that Christ would proclaim justice to the nations. You can't proclaim justice, if you ignore the news and don't know what the injustices are.
Indeed, in general, the prophets would have been "off the scale" in so-called negativity. If you don't believe me, I encourage you to do a study of one or more of the prophets of the Old Testament. They weren't received very well by the populace, because they were giving God's message, and it wasn't all smiles and positivity.
They didn't have thousands of followers who "put on blinders" like a "preacher" I saw recently on television. I was awaiting the following program and saw the last ten minutes of his show. I couldn't figure out what I was watching. It was like a new-age "positive thinking" show, and there were no words about living rightly, nor even a mention of Christ or God. At the end, imagine my surprise to find out it was a very famous pastor, whose "Talks" are broadcast nationally. You would never have know he is supposedly a Christian pastor, with both a local and national following!
The Biblical prophets were dealing with real life. The Bible is a book about real life, and the Christian faith is a faith of real life.
In a life of Christian faith, ignorance is definitely not bliss.
Janice P. Moser
All scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.