I’ve never been really good at New Year’s resolutions. Historically, I tend to resolve not to make any resolutions. Only once, in 2007 when I resolved to finally lose weight and get in shape, did I carry through. And honestly, I think God had more to do with that than I did. Which leads me to my thoughts for 2010.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the hopelessness in the world. Not just the very obvious hopelessness of the poor and the sick and the oppressed. What’s captured my attention is the general hopelessness in American culture.
Throughout the Advent season, we talked a lot in church about stepping into areas of hopelessness with the revolutionary story of Christmas. And it was during those conversations, and blogging my own way through the Advent Conspiracy movement, that this notion of cultural hopelessness began to stir in my consciousness.
For all of our comparative affluence, for all of our comfort, and even for all of our proclaimed faith, our Western culture seems oddly devoid of hope. We have become in many ways a defeated culture. Skepticism and pessimism are the rule rather than the exception.
Really. Ask around. Do the people you know hold a generally hopeful or hopeless outlook for the future? Do people generally think things are headed in a positive or negative direction? Do we believe that despite our difficulties things will turn out alright, or do we believe our difficulties are too overwhelming to overcome? What’s your attitude?
The other thing is, it’s become popular to be skeptical. People don’t like hopeful people. Optimists piss everone off.
And that, finally, is what brings me to the point.
I’ve decided that my resolution for 2010 is going to be radical optimism and hopefulness.
In many ways, that’s a dangerous desire. It flies in the face of a nihilistic culture. It challenges peoples’ comfort zones.
But as I study scripture more, and get to know Jesus better, I’m learning that hopefulness and optimism are really the only ways to live.
The entire narrative of scripture hinges on God’s promise to a guy named Abraham that through him, all the world would be blessed and restored to its original relationship with the Creator. It culminates in God’s entry into humanity, to become as one of his Created, to live an extraordinary life and to re-create hope in a hopeless world. In other words, Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of his own promises.
And it’s in that promise that hopefulness resides. Because I have to believe that if any of God’s promises are true, then all of God’s promises must be true.
If you believe in Jesus, you have no reason to be anything but hopeful. God’s willingness to go to the mat to prove the truth of his promises should dispel all skepticism. When we accept the truth of the promise, the dark forces of the world are defeated. Hopelessness has no place in a world where God fulfills every promise, every time.
Hope, it turns out, is at the heart of faith. Believing in a love so strong that nothing can overcome it changes lives. It changes the world. And a life lived in that kind of hope and love is both compelling and contagious.
So I’m going to be hopeful this year. Radically, dangerously hopeful.