God is optimistic about your future … the rest of us are less certain.
Such is life. For every encourager you may happen upon, there are a dozen or so “realists” lurking in the hedges ready to jump out and stomp on your dreams. Before you’ve even made your first flower festooned float, there’s someone waiting to rain on your parade. The bridge to change is guarded by a multitude of well rehearsed naysayers. Your pursuit of hope will require prolonged engagement with the guardians of perpetual negativity.
To make matters worse, the Internet is producing an exponential spawn of ill-tempered critics. Droves of fault-finders roam the blogosphere. They pounce on every creative thought, idea or action that comes into being. They feed off of the creativity of others.
Unwilling to create, they gain meaning in assessing and tearing down the work of others. Trust me … if you have a grand plan to make the world better, there is a domain name waiting to tear your plan apart.
We are becoming a culture of critics. We are the spectator generation. The way we speak about our most sacred and time honored institutions says much about our current judgmental state.
We talk about our government as if it is not our problem, as if it is someone else’s concern. We talk about the war in Iraq as if it is a theoretical abstraction.
We are the problem
What we fail to realize in this dialogue is the reality that we are the government. We are very much a part of the problem and very much crucial in the finding of solutions. The war is us. We are in Iraq.
When our military goes anywhere in the world, we are saying this is who we are, this is what we want. The war is not a Republican war, it’s not George Bush’s war, it’s not even the Congress’ war. The war in Iraq is our war. We are not spectators.
This critiquing outsider perspective also has penetrated the Christian church. Increasingly, Christians look at their church as if it is something to consume or watch.
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of books and speakers decrying what’s wrong with Christian leaders, pastors and organizations. Never has there been so much written about what’s wrong with the church, but so little being done to make it right.
Many Christians have bought into a myth. They see themselves as somehow standing outside the church. They view the church as something they attend or choose to frequent. What they fail to understand is that every Christian is part of the church.
No one is allowed to sit idly by and watch as their city burns. Every one of us has the calling to pursue God’s best for His church, people and kingdom.
There is certainly nothing wrong with assessing the strengths and weaknesses of any person, institution, idea or action.
What is terribly wrong is to limit our life to that of the critic. Each of us has a life to live. Each of us has a dream to fulfill. We are responsible to carry out the tasks entrusted to our care.
I value doers. I value people who are willing to change course, even in the face of tremendous opposition. Our world needs more poets, more dreamers, more visionaries, more answers, and a whole lot more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
My goal is to facilitate safe, loving environments where people can hear God’s voice and follow God’s lead. You were created to be more than just a spectator. God has something for you to do.
With this in mind, I want to encourage you to take that next step of faith. Why not pursue hope. Rise above the critics and change the world. I really would expect nothing less of you.
Doug Bursch is the pastor of Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets Sundays at 10 a.m. at the Riverside High School Theater. He can be reached at www.yesevergreen.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.