Christian Optimism

I have never had much patience with optimism.  As a self-proclaimed realist, optimism has always seemed to me to be willful belief in a positive future that has no foundation in reality.  In many ways, that is what it is.  At least worldly optimism.  It has occurred to me however, that Christians should be the most emphatic optimists around and that Christian optimism is in fact realism because our assurance that all things will work for our good is firmly rooted, not in warm, fuzzy feelings but in the real, unshakeable, irrevocable love of Christ, purchased for us at the Cross.  

Consider Romans 8:28-39.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Paul begins with this bold statement of incredible optimism.  Yet, this is not some pie-in-the-sky hope.  No, Pauls claims it as a fact.  What is his basis for this claim?  The very sovereignty of God.  “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30). Paul’s optimism for all who love God is founded on nothing less than the sovereign power of God who has promised that He will do good to those who love Him.  

The promise then is not that no trouble will befall God’s chosen or nothing bad will ever happen to them, but that whatever trouble does befall them, for it is almost assured that it will, this trouble will, in the end, be for their good and through it all, none of it will ever be able to sever them from the love of Christ. I find this to be a truly amazing promise.  For if we go back to Romans 5, we remember that before God chose us, there was much to separate us from His love. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  

How can we be assured that all will work for our good?  How may we know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ?  Because Christ has effectually closed the gap between us and His love with His death and Resurrection, His sovereign choosing of us to redeem.  Nothing remains between us and the love of Christ because He has done away with it all.  Yes, there was once much to separate us, but it has been removed.  

We were sinners, dead in our transgressions.  Christ has tread our sins underfoot and hurled all our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).  We were condemned before God.  Christ has been condemned in our place, forever silencing any tongue who would bring a charge against those whom God has chosen (Romans 8:33).  We were by our very nature, objects of wrath.  Christ has borne the wrath the we deserved so we might be objects only of His love (Ephesians 2:3-4).  We were far off from God, separated from His transcendent glory by our lowly humanity.  Christ has come down to take on flesh.  He is Immanuel, “God With Us” in our sufferings and pain (Matthew 1:23).  

Paul’s grand conclusion then is that nothing remains which can separate us from the love of God because Christ has effectually removed all hindrances between Himself and His chosen.  We are His because He has made us His and there is nothing that can keep God from working all things for the good of those who God has sovereignly made His own.  We shall not fear hardship, persecution, or even death because death has been transformed from the door which closes us off from Christ with a harsh thud of finality into a gateway which opens and leads us into the life forever with Christ which He has purchased for us.  Death has no sting for us now (1 Corinthians 15:55). 

The point then is that of all people, Christians should be the most optimistic people around, not because of a vain hope, but because of the real and irrevocable fact of our redemption through the blood of Christ which has bound us, eternally, to His love.  In all things then, we shall be more than conquerors.  “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).  

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