Most of us grew up hearing about the various civic service organizations
of our American communities. Jaycees, Lions, Rotary, and others were
all familiar names on signage at the entrance to many of the towns we
grew up in. Often, we were not fully certain what these groups did, but
they were a part of the fabric of our lives and somehow a reassuring
part of the normal order. One of the groups that I was always fascinated
with was the “Optimists” civic group.
I confess that I knew little
about them, but what a great name. It suggested to me in early years a
group of individuals who got together on a regular basis to share their
optimism with one another. Could it be better than that? I suspect that
there is more to it than that rather naive thought. I do however still
imagine that in their choice of a name, they reflect a creedal
commitment to a philosophical viewpoint. They are committed to
approaching the issues of community from an optimistic stance. Someone
may correct me on that, but that is somewhat beside the point. I really
want to point to what I think was the original optimist club.
The attitude of the early church was that Christ had provided for
something wonderful as a response to the reality of life. Through
Christ, redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness, and freedom were now a
present reality for “Whosoever will”. This optimism radiated within
every message shared by the Apostles. Peter offered the hope of
salvation and the infilling of the Holy Spirit to anyone who wished it
on the day of Pentecost.
Paul and Silas were so optimistic that they
could sing hymns at midnight while chained in a jail cell. Paul could
optimistically declare that “Nothing can separate us from the love of
God in Christ.” He could also affirm that “Whatever may be the promises
of God to us, in Jesus they already have their yes.” I am thinking that
we could use a dose of that kind of optimism in this time when it seems
that we are surrounded by so much negativity in our society.
What a gift
to be optimistic when we are tempted to believe that everything is in
some kind of mortal decline. Is it possible that in such a time as this,
we may benefit from hearing the assurance of our faith once again that
no matter what; our Lord will never “Leave us nor forsake us?” I suspect
so. I encourage you to be of good cheer. God is faithful!