A positive Christianity is marketable; a negative one is not, and this is what seems to matter today.
One pastor preached on the need for a positive message – that we are worthy of God rather unworthy. He reasoned that positive reinforcement is the key:
· If you are raised to feel that you are loved, you will also feel that God loves you.
There is definitely some truth to this. I had felt very unloved growing up. Consequently, I felt that, in order to be loved, I had to become a very different kind of person. Even after I was saved, I still felt that God couldn’t or wouldn’t love me the way I was, unless I produced spiritually, big time. However, it became painfully apparent that I couldn’t produce, at least not enough to warrant God’s love.
This, of course, led me into great despair, but it also led me into a deeper study of the Bible, where the Gospel slowly unfolded itself to me by the guidance of the Spirit. Once I began to realize that my life wasn’t about my worthiness but His, I came to know the truth, and the truth set me free from so much that had enslaved me (John 8:31-32).
I also came to a deeper understanding of what God had revealed to Paul:
· But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
In my weakness and brokenness, God created a surpassing love for His Word and Gospel. I am now confident in the Lord, perhaps far more than those who had come from a positive family.
The pastor went on:
· If you preach a doom and gloom, fire and brimstone message, people will leave feeling gloomy.
Perhaps some will, and perhaps this might be a good thing. Perhaps we need to be shaken up. However, as the darkness makes the light even more striking, the message of doom makes the Gospel shine more exquisitely. If we only hear the Good News, we may become jaded to the message. It might even become monotonous and meaningless. However, when preceded by the bad news, the Good News assumes fullness of meaning. Besides, can we really take the Good News seriously if the “good news” is all that there is? And will the Spirit validate such an unbalanced message within our hearts? I don’t think so!
Nevertheless, the pastor concluded:
· Because God had given His only Son, it is not a matter of whether or not I did bad today. Instead, it is a matter of how much I have enjoyed the Lord today.
I began to think, “Will I enjoy the Lord with only a ‘positive’ understanding?” The pastor seemed to think so, even as his congregants slept on.