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News for Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Positive God in a Negative Society
By Johnnie C. Godwin
contributing columnist, Baptist & Reflector

Two things bear on my mind at this moment: our positive God and our negative society. To say God is positive is totally true. To categorically judge our society to be negative is only partially true — but way too much.

I start each morning with a strong cup of hot, black coffee and the Bible. For me, that’s about as positive a way to start the day as I know. This morning I read Paul’s direction to Timothy: namely, to pray for everyone, give thanks, and live godly lives. Paul especially bore down on praying for “kings and all those who are in authority” (I Timothy 2:1-2). Along with my coffee, Bible, and God, I pray, meditate, and think. Then I move to the Internet and Facebook. That’s when things tend to get negative on the world scene and the U.S. leadership in particular. The inconsistency for Christians is to honor God but malign leaders.

A situational approach to God’s Word. Along my years of growing up, I used to hear a good bit about using the Bible to proof text whatever view you might want to hold. In other words, some folks let the Bible, their prayers, and their statement reflect themselves and their wills more than God’s Word and His will. In ethics, it’s called “situation ethics.” In theology, I call it “situation theology.” But there is also a “situation prayer approach.” We pick and choose to pray mostly for positive things, but then many of us are guilty of spouting negative things.

I’ve written both on being positive and on being negative. And books like The Power of Positive Thinking show that I’m just one among many favoring a positive approach. But take the Ten Commandments for example: They command both positive actions and beliefs and prohibit negative ones. So we need to be for some things and against some things. But overall, we would do well to accentuate the positive — as the song says.

A negative approach to part of society. Specifically, let’s talk politics and religion for a moment. Both are verboten in civil society and in getting along smoothly. But neither one of those has ever bothered me too much. Perhaps my “befriending” is a reflection on me and the friendship I’ve chosen, but I get inundated with things that malign our President of the United States of America — contrary to God’s Word in I Timothy 2:1-2 and elsewhere. Paul’s authorities were pagan Roman rulers and others in authority, but he still said to pray for them. Jesus said to render to Caesar what was his and to render to God what is His. Basically, I’m “a-political”— in Greek class, they call that “Alpha privative,” which means “not political.” I’ve voted all my life for those who happened to be Republican, Democrat, and maybe an Independent or two. I try to vote for the lesser of two evils or the better of two goods. But I pray for our President and leaders!

I find it somewhat amusing and dismaying too that President Obama’s legacy likely will be over the libeled label of “Obamacare.” Even the President would admit trying to get this thing right has been and is a nightmare. I’m not arguing that. It’s just that a President named Obama will have the word “care” attached to his legacy. Who else cared enough to get the word “care” attached to his legacy? Jesus had compassion. Even on the rebellious and unbelieving Jerusalem, Jesus wept and wished He could have gathered them under His wings like a Mother [hen] would gather her chicks. They would not come to Him.

A positive gospel calls for being positive. My own strong convictions won’t let me be wimpy, namby-pamby, or wink at sin defined by God’s Word. Sin is black as the Ace of Spades and ought to get called by what it is. We ought to be against sin; we ought to defy those who promote sin. But most of all we must first seek the kingdom of God and His will. We will best follow Jesus’ pattern if we come in repentance and trusting in Him as Lord and Savior and preaching that message. It is a positive message called “gospel”—which literally from the Greek means “good news.” We have good news and a great, loving, grace-filled, merciful God who wants to save all the world. Our negativism won’t get the job done.

Some of my finest and strongest personal friends — ones who love the Lord, love to sing joyful songs, and enjoy food and fellowship — are some of the most vehement in maligning our President and our “do-nothing” Congress, et al. And I may at least inwardly be as guilty as they. But here and now I repent and pray for our President, our country, and honor all those who have given their lives or serve so we can have freedom of religion and not just freedom from religion. I pray you’ll adopt a Christ-like positive spirit and talk the talk as well as walk the walk of good news from God in Christ.

— Copyright 2014 by Johnnie C. Godwin. Write the author: johnniegodwin@­comcast.net.

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