Imagine a world where all Christians were drab, serious and austere, without a sense of humour. In such a world the Church would have virtually no positive influence on anyone, since part of our job as the body of Christ is to exhibit hope to the world, as salt and light.
Our job is to proclaim the good news in word and deed. If we are dull and depressed we are doing a bad job at reflecting the true hope we have.
This is why we need to reflect on our lives and ask ourselves: how are we perceived by those around us? People observe us, assess our lives and from those assessments make a judgement about our religion and its influence on us.
I find that if I am personally happy, feeling fulfilled and satisfied, then empathy, kindness and consideration for others naturally flows. I go from being focussed on myself to being outward-focussed and inclusive. This is how Christ was. On the other hand, when I'm absorbed in my own personal problems, the last thing I want to do is demonstrate love to others.
Here comes the importance of choosing our focus and attitude — In these situations we first need to stand on the confidence that Christ will deal with all our personal problems as he promised, but we first need shift our focus to Him instead of the obstacles and foes before us, suffocating and extinguishing our joy and contentment.
We need to act on the knowledge that He works all things together for our good, by choosing to be content, despite the adverse situation or problems set before us. When we live-out a record of God's provision and resolution of our past needs and difficulties, we will become more confident that He will remain true to His promises in the future.
Sometimes having a good attitude amidst hardship can border on the ridiculous. For instance there is a powerful woman of God in my church, who always delivers anointed and penetrating words to the congregation. Recently her husband died, and a few days after she attended a baptism for one of the youth in our church. This lady happened to remark on how 'beautiful the day was and how grateful she was to behold it'.
In the eyes of the world this would be a callous insult to the memory of the deceased. They might question how significant her husband was to her if a few days later she was seemingly unaffected by his passing.
Nonetheless, like Paul said, we do not despair as those in the world do, for we know that when our brothers and sisters fall asleep, they are only in a manner of speaking changing clothes, or putting off this temporary 'tent' we live in.
It might be worth noting that even Jesus cried when he witnessed the death of Lazarus. The lady at our church may not have felt amazing, but she chose an attitude that was admirable to the highest degree. She put a smile on, and chose to focus on the hope she has in the resurrection we share with Christ, that is, seeing her husband again.
There will be dark days; days when you feel all alone, moments when a smile would be a fake cover for a distraught soul. That's when hope is most needed, we must hold on to hope, we must stand on the truth of Christ's victory over the world and death itself.
If we fully grasp the hope we have, then there might truly be something worth being glad for even in the darkest days. And those darkest days might be a powerful testimony to those who witness this hope manifest in our lives.
They might see our steadfast confidence in our hope, our good attitude despite our circumstances, and be awakened to a power that transcends our earthly circumstances.
First published May 12, 2014
Amos Sale grew up in Auckland and recently moved to Wellington to assist his girlfriend with her youth ministry. Amos enjoys learning about history, politics, philosophy and biology and he likes sci-fi and action movies. Amos has a passion to defend the Christian worldview and value system against its enemies and detractors by any means he can, and to encourage others to seek out an experiential encounter with God.
Amos Sale's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amos-sale.html