7 ways to be optimistic in a dark culture
It is hard to be optimistic about our culture today. Fifty Shades of Grey
has packed theaters in cities across the country, including some of the
most religiously-conservative towns in America. The latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition
cover image is being called "the magazine's most scandalous cover
yet." In an Us Weekly poll, 68 percent of readers thought it resembled
In 1996, just 27 percent of Americans told Gallup that same-sex
marriage should be valid; today that number has doubled, to 55 percent.
As Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently noted, "The change in people's
attitudes on that issue has been enormous."
One reason for the shift in our cultural values is a shift in our
spiritual worldview. Rod Dreher, one of my favorite cultural analysts,
recently claimed that "moralistic therapeutic deism" (MTD) is replacing
biblical Christianity across our culture. MTD can be summarized as: God
exists, and he wants us to be nice to each other, and to be happy and
Dreher concludes: "If by 'Christianity' we mean the philosophical and
cultural framework setting the broad terms for engagement in American
public life. Christianity is dead, and we Christians have killed it. We
have allowed our children to be catechized by the culture and have
produced an anesthetizing religion suited for little more than being a
chaplaincy to the liberal individualist order."
Does the moral slide of our day mean that Christians should withdraw into citadels of pessimism? Not at all.
A recent article in Fast Company lists "seven habits of optimistic
people." According to the author, optimists express gratitude; donate
their time and energy; are interested in others; surround themselves
with upbeat people; don't listen to naysayers; forgive others; and
smile. Shouldn't Christians exhibit all seven habits?
We should be grateful every day for our salvation in Christ and
status as children of the King of Kings. We are called to donate our
time and energy to Kingdom causes of eternal significance. Our Lord
taught us to love one another as he loves us (John 13:34-35). We can
surround ourselves with fellow optimists as part of the family of God.
We should listen to the Spirit, not to naysayers and negative messengers
of cultural deceit. We are called to forgive as we have been forgiven
(Ephesians 4:32). And we can smile in the face of adversity, knowing
that we are in our Father's hands (John 10:28-29).
It's been said that you attract more flies with honey than vinegar.
When people see the joy of Jesus in your life today, they will want what
you have. (Click to tweet)
So choose not to hide your salt in a saltshaker or your light under a
basket (Matthew 5:13-16). And step into your day with confidence—your
Father is still on the throne of the universe.
All of God there is, is in this day. (Click to tweet)
Dr. Jim Denison, President