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 pornography.
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 successful.
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)
Publication date: February 19, 2015
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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