Summary: One of the ways that Christians live in a positive manner is to discover the ministry, and their gifts and serve God and those around them using their particular gifts in their unique style.
THE SEVEN SEVICE
MAY 12, 2002
Romans 8:28-33 “Living Positively”
We have a choice. We can either approach life as an optimist, or we can approach life as a pessimist. Both optimists and pessimists look to the future. However, one sees the positive possibilities, while the other can see only the negative. It is very similar to viewing this picture of the old lady and the young woman. You started out by seeing only one picture. Someone had to explain to you how to see the alternate picture.
Paul does this for us, in this passage from Romans. His claim is that as Christians we have several solid reasons for living positively in a very negative world. The key is not to try harder to change the negative into a positive. Paul understands that it is where we focus our attention that determines whether we are an optimist or a pessimist. Our positive optimism comes from our hope in Jesus Christ.
ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD
When we read this verse, we often immediately deny it. We know of too many situations where good things didn’t come out of bad events. There are too many tragedies and ruined lives. Still, Paul makes this claim, and Paul was not a stranger to adverse and tragic situations. In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul talks about his imprisonments, his beatings and shipwrecks, his physical sufferings and illnesses. Paul was able to make the claim that all things work together for the good for those who love Christ, even with a life filled with struggles.
Living positively, with our eyes on Jesus, might be the key element that makes the difference. If we believe that God will bring something good out of the situation, and look for it, then it is more likely to happen. The focus of our attention, in order to do this, is on God. We focus on God’s love and power, rather than our own strength and endurance, or in the vain hope that things will be better—tomorrow.
We worship a God who brought the greatest good out of the greatest evil; God gave us our salvation from the death of Christ. If God is powerful enough to do this, then God is powerful enough to bring good out of whatever we encounter in life. Living the ultimate life, we live positively knowing God’s power.
GOD IS FOR US
God has chosen us. God has adopted us as God’s children. God has filled us with the Holy Spirit. All of this, God has done because of God’s love and mercy.
We struggle with Paul’s words concerning predestination. No one, not even the greatest Biblical scholars know exactly what he meant. We do know, though, that if we look back and reflect upon our lives we can see God’s hand upon us. God nudges us in directions that bring us closer to God. We may not be able to see God’s activity in our lives in the present situations that we face, but we can in our past experiences.
If God is for us, then what does it matter who is against us? Who cares if the school bully has it in for us, if our big brother is by our side? This reality has empowered Christians to stand against the forces of corrupt governments, the terrorism of gangs, and even the forces of evil. This truth has empowered the Christian Church to literally change the world. It has been a life changing—life transforming—truth in the lives of millions upon millions of Christians.
Knowing that God is for us enables us to live positively.
NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US
God has filled us with the Holy Spirit—God is present with us. God also holds us in the palm of his hand. There is nothing in the world or universe that is able to change these two facts.
God loves us with a steadfast, overwhelming love, and there is no force on earth or in heaven that is able to separate us from God’s love. Paul leaves nothing to question. The list of forces, which he compiles, includes within their boundaries all the powers of the universe. There is nothing that can pry us away from God’s love.
With the foundation of God’s steadfast love in our lives, we are able to live positively.
We are more than conquerors. Paul said it. We believe it. It is the truth.
We have the gifts of God that enable us to live positively. But we are reminded that these gifts do not allow us to look at ourselves for our hope and salvation. Our hope is in God who died for us and who rose from the dead.