“Are You an Optimist or Pessimist?”

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I want to begin our time together this week by asking you two questions, and then, follow them with a discussion of their possible answers. First, are you, by nature, and in your life, an optimist or a pessimist? And second, since receiving your new nature in Christ, do you consider yourself to be an optimist or a pessimist? 

In answering question one, either answer is acceptable, because a non-Christian is driven purely by his fallen-nature, upbringing, personality, and current cultural or life circumstances. However, question two, allows for only one acceptable answer, Optimist. Yes, I know that all true Christians still deal each day with: … trying to put to death their remaining sin; … turning away from the effects of their non-Christian upbringing; … a personal disposition that needs to be continually reassessed and reformed in light of Scripture; ... discontentment over their present circumstances; and ... their need to be more self-disciplined in exercising, eating, and in taking properly their required medication for either their ill-health or their biological deficiency; but, do these struggles, with which most Christians have to deal with to some degree or another, allow for them to be consistent pessimists? The Bible says no! Why? Because the non-Christian has no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but the believer having a certain hope (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58), is therefore, commanded to abound in hope (Romans 15:13)! Further, he is commanded to rejoice when he does not feel like it (Philippians 4:4), and he is to hope in God when he is overwhelmed with life (Psalm 42:5,11). Last, this also goes for when he sees a less than perfect world around him towards whom he is to respond with faith-driven prayers (Psalm 109:4; Matthew 6:9-10) that plead the promises of God (Hebrews 2:8; 8:6)! Therefore, should Christians be characteristically optimistic about their present and future? Absolutely (2 Corinthians 5:7)! Now, here’s the tough question. Should a Christian’s eschatology (or doctrinal view of the church in the end-times) be optimistic? Yes! For this is very clear in Matthew 16:18, our Lord Jesus Christ said, “...I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.” Why? Because Christ is presently enthroned in Heaven (Acts 2:33-36), Satan has been cast out (John 12:31), and bound by Jesus Christ (Matthew 12:28-29; Revelation 20:1-2), so that, he might not deceive the nations any longer (Acts 17:30)! Well then, let not your heart be troubled, but believe in God (John 14:1-3)! Live upon the Word (Matthew 4:4)! Preach the Word (Acts 8:1,4; 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 2:9)! The nations await the true gospel (Psalm 2:8; Matthews 28:19-20; Acts 1:8)! So, Christian optimism is founded upon God’s Word, and is inseparable from understanding history. And history is “His” story! General Robert E. Lee understood this perspective: “The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding so feeble … that we often tend to see only the ebb of the advancing war and are discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.” May your eyes be fixed each day on the God of history, as you optimistically await His coming in glory and power!

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