"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city......" --- words spoken by Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:27-34
Books have been written on the subject -- seminars have been held -- therapy sessions get into it -- talk show hosts/hostesses will hammer on the subject -- and psychologists/psychiatrists have a field day with it as they underscore the need for a healthy sense of "self esteem" -- church leaders really take this ball and run with it and sometimes it appears that United Methodist bishops try to corner the market on the issue!
And just what is the issue? Why it's this thing of always being positive -- be positive in your attitude and thinking -- and when you speak (and presumably when you preach, so far as church leaders are concerned) always be positive. Don't be negative or critical of anyone or anything! And by all means, back up your positive attitude, thinking and speech with the way you act. Seems that some are convinced (or deluded, you pick out which) that if this positive thing goes far enough and spreads among the population like a measles epidemic, then we will have ushered in a paradise on earth! Yea, I already know -- someone is going to say I have a negative and sarcastic attitude about this thing!
But hang on for a bit longer -- a question or two -- is there no place for negatives in our country and in our world at all? I remember an irate email received one time from a news anchor person at a TV station. I had written in about an issue, and yes, I had been negative in some statements I made. In his reply he made reference to the fact that I was quite negative in what I had said. So I replied in a few statements and reminded him that it is necessary to have some negatives in this world -- "...try starting your car with only a positive post on your battery and see how far you get!" was my parting statement.
It is an extremely rare occasion if a church leader or pastor makes reference to certain actions and statements on the part of Jesus. Or they may just bypass that section of Scripture altogether because it isn't something very soothing to sleep on at night! A brief quote from Jesus is mentioned above. Did you notice the "labels" He used and the persons to whom those labels were applied? If He were being considered for the position of pastor of a large suburban church and the committee responsible for determining the hiring (and firing) of a pastor knew Jesus had said the above things to very religious people, do you think He would get the job? Or in an episcopal system such as the United Methodist Church, do you think a bishop would appoint Jesus to serve a church when it was known that He was so critical and labeled persons in such negative terms? Or maybe Jesus would be put on probation on the condition that He undergo psychiatric counseling for an extended period in order to get this negative stuff out of His system!
If you chopped all the "negatives" out of the Bible and shredded them, you would have a rather thin book left -- or maybe it would more be like a booklet. You would have to eliminate major portions of the Old Testament prophets and once you got done with John the Baptist, there wouldn't be much information remaining about him either.
But why those negatives in the Bible anyway? Everything would have been positive if sin had not invaded the human race. Then came God's revelation as to what He expected by way of human performance and human relationships. Since humans are born with an inclination toward self-centered motives, defiance and rebellion so far as God is concerned, then the negatives come into play. It just isn't sufficient to say, "Now boys and girls, God is good, and we ought to listen to God and mind Him all the time." For a good example as to how the positives and the negatives are spelled out, read Deuteronomy 28, which was referred to in an earlier post here. God spells out the positives -- the blessings which will come for total obedience to Him. But then He takes nearly 4 times as much space (or statements) to spell out the negatives -- the cursings and calamities which will come upon the people for disobedience to His laws and standards!
Must a Christian be always positive -- all the time every day of every week of every month of every year? Think on this -- must your doctor be always positive? Suppose he finds some cancer growing inside you and you ask him what he is going to do. He says he will do nothing -- he is being positive and the cancer cells have as much right to live in the body as those considered to be "normal" and they should be treated with the same respect as the "normal" cells! Would you accept that, or would you insist that those cancer cells must be destroyed -- cut the body open and cut out every cancer cell because if it isn't done, you will die! But that is being a bit negative on your part, isn't it?
A parting question -- if you are a Christian, what are you attempting to do about the spiritual and moral cancer that has invaded the church and those who are infected, including church leaders? What do you think ought to be done about a church leader who says we ought not to send missionaries to foreign countries to convert people to Jesus Christ -- those people over there have their own religion and we ought not to disrupt that? Come on now, let's hear it in this day and age when we are pressured to sit down to the table and "dialog" with those of other religious expessions, put Jesus Christ on the shelf, and say in so many words, "Your religion is just as good as mine -- there are many paths to the top of the mountain, and I am committed to being absolutely positive about all religions in today's world!"
And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" --- Jesus performing in John 2:14-16