How Can I Be Positive in a Negative World?
J. Gerald Harris
The apostle Paul lived in a negative world. When he wrote this epistle to the Philippian church he was in prison in Rome. Nero was the emperor of Rome at the time Paul wrote this letter. Nero was the Saddam Hussein of the first century. The encyclopedia describes him as "a vain buffoon, a self-styled musician and poet, and a cowardly criminal who has left a name notorious for callous cruelty and debauched depravity."
Not only was Paul in some filthy, depressing prison, but he was in shackles. In chapter one of Philippians he mentions his chains in verse 13 and again in verse 14 and again in verse 16. Paul had every reason to be singing the blues.
Today we live in a negative world. There is the constant threat of terrorism. There are diseases without cures. There is a slumping economy that we can only hope will make a recovery. There are murders and rapes and people even being abducted from their own homes. It's a negative world.
There is even negativism in the church. I heard about a pastor who was attending a very negative deacons' meeting. He was an eternal optimist and tried to break the tension by proclaiming, "We shouldn't look at our situation like this. These aren't problems; they're opportunities."
And the disgruntled chairman quickly stifled the pastor's enthusiasm by retorting, "If that's the case then, pastor, we've got a church full of opportunities."
But, you know, there's always somebody in the church who is born in the objective mood and the negative case. There is always a cold water committee. I read recently an article that said this: "As much as 77 percent of everything we think is negative and counterproductive and works against us. People who grow up in an average household hear 'no' or are told what they can't do more than 148,000 times by the time they reach age 18. The result of that is unintentional negative programming."
Have you ever heard ...
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