The title of this post could be the opening line of most newscasts and many sermons. Indeed, our obsession with gloom and doom is legendary and pervasive! Let's face it, we tend to focus on the bad, the failures, the tragedies - the more spectacular, the better! Apparently, the good stuff is too commonplace and mundane. The car wreck that results in horrific death deserves our attention more than the millions of folks who safely navigate their way to their destination on a daily basis. Death has priority over birth. Mourning is more compelling than joy and celebration. The Apocalypse is more exciting than folks beating their swords into plowshares and every teardrop being wiped away from our eyes!
Fortunately, over the last few years, the folks in most of the newsrooms around the United States have recognized the value of devoting the final story of the newscast to something positive/uplifting/inspiring in nature. I guess it finally dawned on them that the focus of the newscast was just too depressing and negative for viewers! "We've got to give them something to pull them out of the nosedive that our other stories have provoked!" In other words, they have finally seemed to grasp the truth of the old adage: "Better to light a candle, than to curse the darkness."
Likewise, for too many of our preachers, the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse are just too good to ignore! Antichrists, war, famine, pestilence and death are more interesting than Christ, peace, plenty, healing and life! Horrific beasts, plagues and blood flowing in copious amounts are more riveting than the Good News about Jesus Christ and what comes next! Unfortunately, all too many of our pastors delight in expounding upon the gory details of punishment and warning us about the horrific consequences of our sins. For them, the notion of God zapping someone is more compelling than the notion of God lifting someone out of the mire and saving them!
They forget what Paul wrote to the saints of Philippi so long ago. He instructed them to "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8) Likewise, he wrote to the saints at Rome: "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death." (Romans 8:1-2) Paul concluded his thought here with one of the most uplifting passages in the entire Bible. He wrote: "I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
What about you? Are you ready to embrace a different perspective? Are you willing to focus on the positive things around us, and the good things that have been predicted for our future? OR Are the pain, suffering and torment simply too compelling to abandon? Do you prefer sadness to joy, and warning to encouragement? In this regard, it seems to this blogger that we all have a choice to make. This is entirely a matter of perspective. Will we choose to look up or will we choose to stare into the abyss?