Monday, June 2, 2014

Being a positive person is a Christian trait

Many people have asked me how I can appear so positive in the face of challenges and adversity.  I have never attributed it to something that has been inborn, and have always said that it is my Christian calling to be a person of hope in the light of difficulties and setbacks.  Of course, we can always will ourselves to always try to see the best in difficult circumstances, but that would mean that there will come to a point where our human will wears out – what then?  Do we just give up on hope altogether?  It has to be something that we have been given as followers of Christ that allows us to see light even in evident darkness. 

Have you ever met people who are almost perpetually negative?  I have.  They can pose a very great challenge to almost everybody they meet.  And quite often, these are people who do profess their faith in the risen Lord and are themselves baptized Christians, people who are purportedly men and women of hope and renewed life.  Sometimes, it is as if they are given eyes that automatically zero-in on the negatives in just about every situation that they are presented with.  Any idea that is raised is thought of first as something that is faulty and the mind races to find ways to be critical and negative.  The first response to any suggestion is hardly ever supportive and agreeable, and the first word that comes out is often “I don’t think it is that good an idea”.  It can take a whole truck load of Christian charity and patience to live, work and be with such people, and sadly, this could be the story of many relationships that we ourselves know of. 

What does being automatically negative say about us?  Well, right from the start, it exposes one very glaring trait.  It makes us appear to be superior when there is no need to be.  The ego has a strange ability to want to promote itself in just about any situation.  When we train ourselves to only say something negative or see something negative in people and circumstances, what we are saying silently is that we know better, and that given the opportunity, we would never be caught presenting such an idea or proposal.  The ‘natural’ critic in us makes us feel either morally or even ethically superior, very often in a false way, and in our hidden way, we hope to end up thumbing down the other person to make our egos feel superior. 

But the real self (as opposed to our shadow) knows that this superiority is often a lie.  This makes the negative and critical trait something that is so insidious and sneaky.  If we are not people of deep prayer and awareness of the self, we will easily let this false self-rule and dominate the part of us that wants to live generously, with much charity, patience and love.  Awareness of this sort very often can only come out of a long-term practice of contemplation of God’s mercy and who we really are at the heart of it all.  When we do not open our hearts and souls to the very core of our being loved for who we are in God, and that we are absolutely nothing if not for the love and mercy of God, we will end up easily thinking that our lives are our own, and that our opinions always reign supreme over others.

Of course, the other thing that being so negative about others says about us is that we are not really walking the Christian walk, let alone talk the Christian talk.  All the disciples of Christ whose lives were written about in the Scriptures faced all sorts of harsh treatments and trials for their Christian faith.  John the beloved may have been spared such trials, though perhaps having received the visions and messages of that are written about in the Book of the Apocalypse could be a real trial in themselves.  Yet, we do not see any signs of the disciples complaining about their lot.  We see instead plenty of signs of just the opposite – where the disciples actually showed great rejoicing and courage at being flogged and punished and persecuted for their undying belief in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This has to be a sure sign of the Holy Spirit living so powerfully in and through them. 

Is this not our calling as the disciples of Christ too?  We must never just read the Scriptures (or hear it being proclaimed from the lectern in Church) in a passive way, thinking that that is something that only those who walked with Christ while he was alive were graced with.  Our being chosen as beloved and adopted sons and daughters of God gives us this much needed strength too, especially in the daily challenges of life.  It is our shared characteristic as people of Christian hope and positive living.

Having said this, it is necessary to point out that we cannot just be eternal optimists in every adverse situation.  We also do need to be alert enough to see the moral and ethical OB markers that exist in every situation that we are presented with in life.  This prevents us from being easily hoodwinked by evil that often knows that evil will always want to present itself as a good to entice us to sin and fall from grace. 

As Scripture says, we do have to be wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.  But if we are only negative, critical and blameful as our first and automatic response, perhaps we are only as wise as doves but as harmful as serpents – to our society, our colleagues, and to our loved ones.


  1. Haha frLuke just the right reflection for me. Last Thursday in my journal i recorded that i want "to live constructively in the life of Christ" after realizing that i am actually pretty negative in my thoughts and words. Thanks for this ruminations which will be my reference point from time to time.


  2. Indeed a good rumination Fr Luke, but sometimes what when life throws you a negative experience completely off-guard??..What when that sudden impact actually makes a deep dent and then rest everything that you look at in life is through this dented view..always cautious - ready to handle that bolt from the blue!!. I am more of an pessimist(ofcourse i dont want to be like this...) trying to let go off things and want to let things happen the way its meant to be ...easier said than done....rather its easier to pray and wait patiently for God to do it. Your paragraph on how the disciples embraced their sufferrings and they found joy in doing so through the Holy Spirit is a consolation and gives me peace...because its a gentle reminder that i need to turn to the Helper who will help me through.

  3. ............ “but that would mean that there will come to a point where our human will wears out – what then? Do we just give up on hope altogether? It has to be something that we have been given as followers of Christ that allows us to see light even in evident darkness.”

    Somehow, this reminds me of E Dickinson’s poem on Hope which you mentioned in one of your earlier posts – “Hope is the thing with feathers...............that sings without words..............” And though ‘perched’ (which is indeed a precarious position to be in) – it is ‘not abashed’ by even the harshest storm. Seen in the light of our faith, this gift of Hope is unique, one of its kind, given only to those who believe in Him as promised in Romans 5: 2-5 This has to be one of my favourites especially when coupled with John 14:1-31

    For in His Farewell Discourse, Jesus lovingly re assures us of the Father’s love and the glory that awaits those who abide with him. Should this glory be immense beauty, then I believe we would not only be able to behold it in all its richness, but more to become one with it. This surely would make us see light even in evident darkness and sing with Keats in his Ode to Hope
    “Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,
    Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;
    When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
    Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart;
    Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
    And fright him as the morning frightens night !”

    God bless you, Fr