Latch On To The Affirmative

Front Lines

by Dee Bowman

The very concept of Christianity is positive. Sin with all its produce, is negative. Forgiveness with all it affords for us, is inherently positive. It is frightening to consider what a drab existence life would be if there was no fact of forgiveness, if there was no assurance of divine association, if there was no route of pursuit which ends in Heaven. It all resolves into hope. And hope is in its very nature positive.

Christians should be the most positive people in the world. They are the people most connected to hope. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that does {not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). Gods reservation is sure. His abundant mercy is true. What a blessed assurance!, It is impossible for God to lie. Talk about positive. That’s positive. Determined to show His complete resolve to those to whom He made the promise of the great reward, He confirmed it with His own oath because He could swear by no greater than Himself. Now “this hope we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil” (Hebrews 6:19-20). Hope is forward-looking; it reaches those greatly desired areas where we cannot yet go. It does for us what no other mental process can do. Hope reaches eternity.

But love is the most positive thing in life. lt is the great cause. It is the supreme motive. It is the progressive force for good, the dominant reason for peace, the activator of all that is noble. lt behaves in a predictably positive manner. lt is patient; it suffers long. It has a quiet confidence about it and is never rowdy or boisterous. lt is ever strong and abiding, helpful and harmless. It enhances every situation it touches and strengthens every relationship where it is allowed residence.

Love is very personal, yet it does its best work when it is spread around. It is inexhaustibly forgiving even though it will discipline without hesitation. It is the object of the king and the precious joy of his subjects. It condemns sin but welcomes the sinner. The majesty of it is too grand for any man to adequately describe and yet the smallest child can utter it meaningfully. It can elevate the spirit and bring spring to the step, yet it can tear at the heart of the lonely and bring melancholy to the one left behind. It is the wonderful, positive paradox, love is.

Humans are fitted for such optimistic and visionary concepts. If there is one thing Christianity is forever involved with it is right thinking. Positive thinking is the power of the Christian; he is not just assigned such high use of the mind, he is privileged of it. “Whatsoever things are true . . . noble . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely . . . of good report . . . meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Things true, or things that agree with the facts; real things. Things which are noble or honorable; things which bring glory to God. Things just, fair, honest. Things pure, not mixed with the wrong; sincere. Things lovely; pleasing things; beautiful things. And things of good report (an accounting of things is a report); we should keep only the good. Ah, what a grand community is that one where Christianity is practiced. Where affirmative, positive and edifying thinking is the rule.

There are risks involved in positive thinking. The risk of self-righteousness follows thinking too much of oneself (cf. Romans 12:3). There is the potential for preoccupation so that we become unrealistic (cf. Luke 14:28-33). And then there’s always the problem of being so taken by the ”rah-rah’s” that we forget what the project is (cf. Matthew 23:23-24). But, as Johnny Mercer’s great lyric suggests, “You gotta accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative; latch on to the affirmative; and don’t mess with Mister In-between.’

CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE JANUARY, 1984

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