Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How Christian Optimists View What I will Call Christian Pessimists

"Hi, my name is Teresa and I am a Christian Optimist. I am so wildly optimist as to be a Romantic Idealist," I introduce myself. 

"Huh," sneer those who think they know me and mumble under their breath, "She is the most negative person I have ever met. She does nothing but complain about the culture. She is doom and gloom about abortion and family values and America who she claims is falling apart…. Optimist my foot... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."

I hear a lot that I need to calm down, cool off, tone it down, don't get so emotional, be positive, look on the bright side…. and the one that is the most uniformed: "Give it to Jesus." 

You see, usually before saying or writing a word I have spend hours in prayer doing just that! These people assume because I loudly and repeatedly identify cultural problems that I am angry or despairing. No, that is projecting their own feeling onto me. It is because I have spent so much time in intense prayer over the evils I see in society that Christ gives me the courageous grace to be His hands and feet and stand up and go out and be Him to the world. I see the problem as solvable! That is being optimistic. I just need everyone's help. 

If fact, I will be so bold as to say that some of those who tell me to be more positive are themselves Christian pessimists. Yes, pessimists. And yes, I will tell you how I get to that conclusion.

Christian Pessimists, You Know Who You Are

You see, I know Christian pessimism. I grew up immersed in it. This fatalistic ideology believes the world is bad, people are bad, the future is bad. These Pessimists skipped to the end of the book of Revelation and interpreted it as the world is irrecoverably corrupt and think the signs of the times point to a an imminent and fiery end--in our lifetimes.

Since they see no hope except in the new earth after the Second Coming, they feel no responsibility towards the culture. They are planning on hunkering down until last-days persecution begins and then they will run to the hills to hide out. Or another scenario is they will be saved at the rapture. So there is no point in

thinking about your family's future, your nation's future, because God already told us the horror that is to come. Trying to thwart that would be…. like going against God! Concerning yourself with the culture, other than the occasional civic duty of voting is being worldly. That is what I mean by Christian pessimism.

Well, we have not yet arrived at Revelation's destination. The pilot has not told us to make sure our seatbelts are securely fastened for touchdown, so we need to get up and move around the cabin and care for our fellow travelers and our families.

While I would be incredibly grateful if Christ were putting the finishing touches on the New Jerusalem and about to descend, history is full of cycle after cycle of people believing the world was about to end and living through great
disappointments. America's apocalyptic seizures may be a warning of a new dark ages and we may be around for another couple millennia. If so, we must try and heal our nation for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. Last-day fatalism may be spiritually dangerous for the next few generations as well as being spiritually irresponsible.

And think about it. If Christ does come soon, do you want Him to find you cowering in the bushes or fiercely engaged in the battle for souls throughout prayers, fasting, works of charity and mercy and self-sacrificing love? Go down fighting! That's what I say.

It is an optimistic, can-do attitude that wants to identify the problem and let people know so they can help solve it. Optimists believe it is solvable. So when we try and rally the troops and the pessimists tell us to calm down and be positive, we are very confused. That is like telling the half a million young pro-lifers at the annual March on Washington to calm down and be positive. It wouldn't compute. We are positive!

How Optimists and Pessimists View Life

Not being a pessimist, I can only give you the view of how it looks from a optimistic side. So if I am characterizing you falsely, I apologize and would appreciate understanding you better so correct me. But until then, here's the way it appears.

The Optimist and Pessimist Christian worldviews handle problems differently. When presented with a personal or cultural problem, the Christian pessimist feels completely out of control, helpless and defaults to the comforting passive mantra of "Just give it to Jesus and don't worry about it." The Optimist believes God gives us the strength and power and wisdom to tackle the problems and solve them.

You might read “Courage!” or “You’re on this planet for a purpose. Find it” on a Christian Optimist’s bumper sticker. A Christian’s pessimist’s might read, “KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid” or “Not Perfect: Just Forgiven.”
The Pessimist trembles at the thought of the Satan's power to deceive gullible, depraved people for Satan is the Ruler of this world. The Optimist trembles at the judgment of God and is concerned about the deception of post-modernism, for Satan is the Father of lies.

The Pessimists focus is on human's utter helplessness, total depravity and lack of free will. Sin is downplayed as inevitable. The Christian Pessimist avoids the Valley of the Shadow of Death for they do not want to tempt God or be tempted, because they have accepted that falling is inevitable. Pessimists seem to love the text “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” While Optimists are motivated with the text, “through Christ all things are possible." We tend to run boldly into the Valley of the Shadow of death because we believe God is with us and if we are tempted, we can overcome temptation through the power of God's grace.

Pessimists focus on forgiveness of sin, while Optimists focus on the actions of obedience to prevent sin so that we all can become saints. Christian optimists do not ignore the pain, despair and hardship but believe they are redemptive and can help towards the goal of a better world.

Pessimists give up on the battle before they fight since they see no purpose in fighting.  They are outgunned by the enemy. While the Optimists may finally give up on the fight after years of exhaustion because they find no one else wants to fight with them. They are outmanned by the enemy.

What's Your Worldview?

Christians need to be aware of which perspective or variation on that perspective they hold because they will live and make choices upon these world views.

One man I know was an only child because his parents believed the Lord was coming and didn't think it was right to bring children into such a corrupt world. He was an accident and his parents paid no attention to him they were so busy telling the world the Second Coming was imminent.

When you believe it is futile to try and rehabilitate your nation because God is coming soon, you can feel nice and at peace and tell other people to "Relax, God is in charge." Often these people feel it is ungodly to get all excited. I have heard that many people feel peaceful right before they commit suicide. Christian Pessimists feel the world is suicidal, so what's the point of getting upset? It's going to be all over in a little bit.

We optimistic Romantic Idealists just haven't
given up hope and get really frustrated with those who have. We see a bright future if we all can be moved to action. Optimists are notorious for yelling "help" because we are confident that someone will respond! We seem to endlessly complain because we just don't think most Christians are paying attention and need education on a certain subject. We believe in the basic goodness of mankind. We know that most of us will act heroically and unselfishly when a crisis is at the door. As annoying as we Optimists may be, we bring the crisis to your door.

The Christian Pessimists answers the door and tells us to "shhhhh," because they don't want to hear the problem, it just upsets them because they do not see the problem as solvable. To them all our information is useless and negative white
noise. They don't want to be disturbed as they are hunkered down awaiting the Second Coming.

But I remain optimistic that the pessimistic Christian will change! He just needs to know that he's being pessimistic because he is so wonderful I doubt he even realizes it.

I have great hope for the Pessimists---
it is the Romantic Idealist in me.

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