Is Jesus an optimist? How about His followers?
I’ve been writing this week about optimism. I created A Reluctant Optimist’s Code in an attempt to counteract my natural inclination to perceive that The Half Empty Glass Is Leaking.
Today I’m wondering what the Bible says about my half-baked ideas. Since I just posted my list of 100 Significant Scriptures that shape my personal theology, I started there.
I invite you to look at my selections, see where I’ve missed the mark, and decide what you would add. If it’s appealing, maybe you could use small parts as daily devotions for a few days.
Jesus the realistic optimist
Jesus left the infinite splendor of heaven. He was confined to Mary’s womb, then entered the world as a helpless baby. He lived a common life, endured the limitations of a human body with a human brain. For thirty years He was virtually indistinguishable from other young men.
When He finally spoke out, He was ridiculed and ignored by those with power and influence. When too many people listened He was arrested, beaten, tortured, and murdered in the most horrible, humiliating manner.
He did all of this willingly. He knew what was coming.
Still, I believe Jesus is an optimist. I think He calls us to His brand of optimism.
In fact, I’d argue that Jesus is the reason for optimism.
Jesus’ optimism is what I call REALISTIC OPTIMISM. He’s not advertising a voyage on The Good Ship Lollipop. Life for followers of Jesus isn’t “… a sweet trip to a candy shop where bon-bons play on the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay.”
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
It’s clear—our lives will have their share of difficulties. But we don’t confront them alone.
See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Exodus 23:20
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
Here are the optimistic affirmations I posted yesterday. I’ve added some passages for each statement. I also ad that each affirmation must begin with a crucial phrase: With God’s help…
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
A Reluctant Optimist’s Code
I believe in my ability to influence positive outcomes in any situation.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7
I view events in a larger, and generally more positive, context.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:14]
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25
Positive events impact my overall life in a positive way. Negative events are limited to a single aspect of life.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matthew 6:25
Positive events are likely to recur as part of a beneficial trend. Negative events are isolated and less likely to become patterns.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Others have innate value and can contribute in positive ways.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
I look more at long-term consequences and outcomes than short-term results.
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? John 14:2
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. Psalm 23:1
I judge behaviors, not people.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3
I am responsible for, and capable of, analyzing and developing my own character.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2:16-17
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Matthew 9:12
I learn from the past, anticipate the future, and live in the present.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39<
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16