Sunday, 6 February 2011

A Pessimistic Christian?

This morning at church we were looking at developing as a Christian. At a list of characteristics that we should seek to grow in as we continue our walk with Christ.

“make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”
2 Peter 1:5b-7

However I believe that this list is not exhaustive. I think that we can find other traits which we should seek after, and ones we should try and banish from our lives. In this post I shall be looking briefly at pessimism, is it a trait that we should desire, one to be avoided or simply one that has no bearing on the working out of our faith?

The last part of this question is perhaps the simplest to consider. Every character trait has an impact on who we are, are we generally happy or melancholy, loving or hateful, introverted or outward looking. Every part of our character determines what we are most likely to do in any given situation. An extravert may be uncomfortable in a room on his own and get up and seek out company, whilst an introvert is much more likely to remain where they are. Thus every single facet of our personality will effect how we perceive the world and live our lives. To live our lives for Christ means that every aspect of them must be brought before his throne with willingness to be changed in order to be more like him.

What does a pessimistic view of the world really imply? A pessimist generally sees the worst in any situation, saying that their endeavours are bound to fail, that no matter how promising something looks at the moment it’s bound to go wrong in the end. There are two things that I think are wrong with this view of the world. Primarily a pessimistic Christian can not truly believe in an all powerful God who loves them. To see every task as a failure before it is even failed denies God’s power and love, after all we are told to “bring everything before him in prayer and petition”. What is the point of prayer, if God does not listen? If you deem your task a failure do you demand that God gives up on it too? Is there no expectation of intervention?

Secondly, we are told to live for this day. Not “to worry about tomorrow”, by saying ‘this task will fail’ in the heart, is one not really saying ‘I know what tomorrow will bring and that will be failure’? Even Christ did not know the date of his second coming, how are we then to know what will happen tomorrow?

To summarise: pessimism is liable to lead to a belief that only I have an impact on my life, both its successes and failures and to worry about the future rather than living in the present. I hope that I have managed to convey what I believe about the necessity to deny the pessimistic cravings within all of us with out causing any offence. If that is not the case than please accept my heart felt apologies.

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