I have a confession to make: I’m an optimist.
By nature I can spin anything to a positive. If I accidentally cut off one of my fingers, I would be happy that I still have nine others. If my dog got run over, I would be excited about getting a new puppy. I know, “that’s just wrong,” but yes, I have a serious positivity problem.
But I’m not alone. I am preaching through the book of Philippians with my students on Sunday mornings and I’m pretty sure Paul was the supreme optimist. At the end of chapter one, Paul states, “The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:17-18)
In this passage we find Paul in prison in Rome writing to the church at Philippi where there are other leaders trying to replace Paul’s headship. What if that happened to you? What if you got thrown in prison for preaching, then a week later you found out that your church had hired a new youth pastor? Would you be as optimistic as Paul?
“Well, at least the gospel is being proclaimed!” Even I have a hard time spinning that…
Here’s the deal: I think students need a healthy dose of positivity! Every day they are surrounded by negativity…it’s called High School. But I also think I, I mean we, can go too far.
So this morning I unleashed my rarely seen, “Negative Nancy.” I was at a morning school Bible study and I wanted to prepare students for what troubles the upcoming year could hold. I wanted them to understand that our joy in Christ is not dependent upon our circumstances.
Paul got it. Paul was in prison and being replaced, but Paul didn’t see his circumstances…Paul saw Jesus.
I pray that my optimism would not be self-induced, but the result of Christ in me. I pray that you would find your joy in Him. I pray that we would prepare students for the hardships of life in a way that does not create a false sense of security, but in a way that points them to Jesus regardless of circumstance.