I’ve never been accused of being an optimist. And, most of the time, when someone calls me a pessimist, I try to point out that I’m a realist instead. I now realize that only a pessimist will try to call themselves a realist. Maybe that’s the way it is. Maybe looking at the world with a glass-half-empty approach is realistic. Maybe the hopeful optimist is looking for something unrealistic. Something better.
I wish I could be that guy. I wish I could put a happy face on the world around me and really believe that things are going to be all right. But I look at the world around me and that hopeful optimism that I’d really like to experience just gets slapped in the face by the cold, hard truth of reality.
I very rarely write blog posts that focus on current events. I tend to keep my opinions to myself when it comes to politics and the hot button issues that the news outlets are covering on a daily basis.
We live in a messed up world. It’s a world where the only two people who have been deemed qualified for the highest office in the United States are about the most unqualified people you could possibly find for the position. It’s a world where violence begets violence. It’s a world where people talk about a desire for change and lament the violence that we see far too often but are unwilling to take legitimate action to affect change. It’s a world where those unqualified candidates do nothing but spout hate toward each other and those who would oppose them.
We can do better. It’s so hard for me to view the world through optimistic lenses, but I have to believe we can do better.
I’m a Christian. At least, I try to be. That simply means I believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on a cross for the sake of this messed up world. It also means that I try to follow Jesus’ teachings found in the New Testament. In John 13:34, Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Can you imagine the kind of world we would live in if everyone loved one another the way Jesus loved? But really think about the way He loved people. It’s not a touchy-feely kind of love that seeks to just make everyone feel good about themselves. It’s a sacrificial love. Jesus loved each of us enough to be nailed to a cross. He loved us enough to take on the sin of the world in order to bridge the gap between God and humanity.
Imagine that world. A world in which people exhibited self sacrificing love. A world where a stranger is willing to die for you rather than kill over being unhappy about something he saw on the news.
I won’t sit here and claim to have it all figured out. I know that there are a lot of situations in which I can seem incredibly incapable of the love I was commanded to have for others. Put me behind the wheel of a car and I have a complete loss of memory when it comes to Jesus’ commandment. But does that mean I stop trying? What good does it do any of us to spread hate?
I can watch the news and I can be disgusted by the world in which we live. Or I can go out there and I can love people.
Come, Lord Jesus.