The Biblical Basis for Christian Optimism (III)

by Andrew McColl on December 11, 2012

Optimism is essential for people. If people don’t believe that their works today have relevance, meaning or purpose, this will destroy their desire to do anything. Why get out of bed? Research documents this fact. Paul pointed out that “…the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops” (I Cor.9:10).

We have to have a reason for what we do. Today, I’m going to work, and I hope to get paid for it next week. I don’t go because I love my boss, or the work, or my work companions, though these factors certainly do make it easier. It is the prospect of monetary reward in this work that drives me. I am “plowing in hope,” and there is nothing wrong with that.

The motivation for other forms of Christian service is similar: not necessarily the prospect of monetary return, but that there is meaning and purpose in an endeavour requiring our labour. This leads us onto something else:

A social movement that wants to significantly change society, must have some core components:                                                                                                                          1) It has to believe in the real possibility of positive social change.

2) It has to believe it has the specific tools to bring about that change: a unique doctrine of law. Men need to believe in their ability to understand this world, and by understanding its laws, change its features. They need a detailed program for social change, in other words.

 3) There is another feature of a successful program of social reconstruction which is usually present, and which is undeniably powerful: the doctrine of predestination.[1] They have to have good reason to believe that history is on their side.

The Bible provides all these things for Christians. We do believe in the possibility of positive social change, that the scriptures give us a unique doctrine of law, and that God is always powerfully at work accomplishing His plan. God is on our side, regardless of the obstacles or trials we may seem to be facing.

These three things ought to be a source of great encouragement for believers. They were designed to be an encouragement. If God did not have a perfect, all-encompassing plan for humanity, we could be excused for entertaining pessimism. But He has completely provided for His people.

What to do now?

The Bible says that “he who watches the wind will not sow, and he who looks at the clouds will not reap”( Ecc.11:4).

Samuel Rutherford once said, “Duties are ours, events are the Lord’s.” We cannot predict exactly what the interaction between tomorrow and our labours will result in, but what we can do, is behave obediently and responsibly, and trust God to bring about the results.

The ten spies who entered the promised land and brought back a negative report knew about points 1, 2 and 3. In fact, they were those who had been the first recipients of the law of God from Mt Sinai in Exodus 20. Their response? “It can’t be done. It’s too hard.”

Can we afford to wait for the optimum circumstances? Not really. The circumstances of today may not be glowing, but are they this way because of our Christians failing to sow?

All of the great men and women of the Bible at some point faced daunting circumstances, which in human terms seemed hopeless. But they did something that the ten spies were unwilling to do: they believed that God was much bigger than their circumstances, and was able to lead them to triumph regardless. And they were right!

So, the Christian response ought to be one of optimism, concerning the faithfulness and the promises of God towards His people, and His great desire to use them in this world He created.

Are you optimistic about this and if you are, what are you doing about it?



[1] North, G., “Unconditional Surrender,” 1995, p.361-2.

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