[forthright] A Pollyanna Perspective?

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Wed, 11 May 2011 06:54:18 -0700 (PDT)
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: HANDS-ON FAITH

A Pollyanna Perspective?
 by Barry Newton

Did Paul promote a Pollyana perspective where
Christians merely pretend all is well while the wheels
roll off the wagon? At first glance, it might seem that
way.

Sixteen times in Philippians, Paul either mentions joy
or commands rejoicing, despite being shackled awaiting
a possible death sentence. Furthermore, the church to
whom he wrote faced antagonistic attacks from without
and quarrels within their ranks.

Neither situation inspires reason for joy or rejoicing.
Yet, Paul wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will
say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).

Accordingly, was Paul proposing some form of a mental
break with reality where Christians somehow are to
experience good feelings washing over their hearts
while drowning in problems?

Are Christians being called to slap a smile on their
face and a song in their heart ignoring the crises of
life? To both questions, the apostolic answer is a
resolute "hardly."

Throughout Philippians, Paul deliberately intertwined
personal examples, overt instruction, not to mention
outright commands guiding God's people to refocus their
values and the goal driving how daily life is lived.
This letter presents a powerful call to live up to the
heavenly citizenship the gospel made possible for
Christians.

To live worthy of their calling involves Christians
making the decision to live each day with Christ being
the highest priority. This perspective destroys a self-
centered and self-ambitious approach to life.

No longer is one's mind preoccupied with the myopic
temptation to be overly anxious with one's own
situation, mentally rehearsing my crises, as though
these were most important.

Rather, to live for Christ causes a profound love to
erupt that seeks the greatest good of people. More than
anything else, people need Christ. So, if Christ is
being preached, if lives are being transformed to serve
him, and if a Christian's future hope burns brightly in
their hearts, then there are genuine reasons to rejoice
even in the midst of difficulty.

While this is all fine and good, are real problems
handled with an ostrich in the sand approach? No.
Rather, "in every situation, through prayer and
petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God"
(Philippians 4:6).

In fact, although Paul's imprisonment could end with
his execution, nevertheless because of prayer he
anticipated the Lord to work in his situation
(Philippians 1:19).

Christians are to openly lay their concerns before the
Lord as their minds dwell upon truth and what is
praiseworthy.

Approaching life in such a manner will recognize
genuine cause for rejoicing. Christians have good
reason to rejoice in the Lord always.

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