There has been some confusion in the last, oh let’s say,
decade century millenia about what it means to be a Christian.
Most of this confusion has been brought on by our own fault, and I have certainly contributed to the lies myself. But I want to focus on one point of confusion in this post:
More and more, I see people confusing the gospel of Christ, which is the whole crux of Christianity, with the false gospel of Positive Thinking.
Now, I have to admit, I haven’t read the bible of positive thinking. I don’t think there’s one person or book or organization who is creating positive thinking disciples. I think there are many.
Here are some of the false teachings of the church of positive thinking:
- Our purpose in life is to be happy and feel fulfilled.
- If you put positive thoughts out into “the universe,” positive things will come back to you (sort of a variation on the idea of karma).
- By thinking positively and looking forward, your life will be better and your desires will be met. An example of this is the statement: Simply visualizing a certain success in your life will make it more attainable.
- Physical riches, e.g., money, fame, success, beauty, are all signs that you have done well and reaped a reward.
Instead, let’s see what the Bible has to say:
You will encounter suffering in this life (aka “Your life will not all be hunky dorey.”)
My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials (James 1:2, NETBible, emphasis mine)
When. Not if.
The faith of those who suffer is strengthened and they are considered blessed (aka “Suffering doesn’t mean that God hates you or is punishing you.”)
[continued from the Scripture above]…because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:3, NETBible)
Think of how we regard as blessed those who have endured. (James 5:11a, NETBible, emphasis mine)
Suffering is a way to demonstrate the compassion and mercy of Christ to a broken and hurting world (aka “It’s not always about you.”)
[continued from the Scripture above] …You have heard of Job’s endurance and you have seen the Lord’s purpose, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:11b, NETBible)
Riches can make it difficult to have faith (aka “Be careful what you wish for…”)
Now the believer of humble means should take pride in his high position. But the rich person’s pride should be in his humiliation, because he will pass away like a wildflower in the meadow. For the sun rises with its heat and dries up the meadow; the petal of the flower falls off and its beauty is lost forever. So also the rich person in the midst of his pursuits will wither away. (James 1:9-11, NETBible)
In heaven, not only do we get to spend eternity with our Creator, but He also has prepared heavenly rewards for us (aka “This stuff is better than your 72″ app-enabled LED TV.”)
[Continued from the same Scripture above…] Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. (James 1:12, NETBible)
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:9, NIV)
But what about the here and now? (aka “OK, OK, can we be shallow for just a second?”)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:17-18, NIV, emphasis mine)
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)
Sounds a lot like positive thinking to me!!! Except that the “what we do not see” is not some univers-ical karmic something. He is the one Creator of the universe – the one worthy of faith and glory and all worship!
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:29-31, NIV, emphasis mine)