Christmas 2017: The Importance Of A Spectacular Mindset In Life
SPECTACULAR - 'A beautiful, dramatic, eye-catching, and glorious effect'. Wow, that kind of thinking would be powerful!
'As much as you have all heard the narrative about what is happening amongst us, I want to give you a SPECTACULAR and perfect understanding of all of these things. So I write to you so you can know with certainty about everything you have heard that has come to us.' (paraphrased from Luke 1.1-4)
This Christmas 2017 things might not seem hopeful. But, something spectacular happened more than 2,000 years ago that changed the first century when things weren't looking so good either.
A spectacular mindset is a game-changer. It can help us balance all of life happening around us. For instance, in the fires of the western states, the homelessness of our inner-city neighborhoods, the addictions of affluent suburban teens, or the hurricanes and floods of Texas, Florida, and the West Indies, life seems hopeless. In the school shootings in New Mexico, the division on Capitol Hill, or the Amtrak train crash in Washington, life seems hopeless.
But, a healthy mindset could be the key success factor in dealing with all of this. It doesn't matter how bad it looks or how hopeless your situation seems. There is always hope. Just look at the world of the first century before Christ. And think spectacularly.
Luke describes the spectacular nature of Christ's birth in chapter 1 of his gospel. That into the darkness of the 1st century came a light. And it drew everyone to its glory. And it changed the narrative. No more hopeless despair that life couldn't be better. A new empire was being established that would give everyone, king or pauper, a chance at a better life. The original Christmas story was a game-changer. And it began with a spectacular mindset. The mindset that was to become a radical shift to what everyone was thinking in Israel at the time.
Sports analysts have said that Michael Jordan became the champion he was because of his mindset. It has been said by financial and organizational analysts that the most successful CEO's of Fortune 500 Companies have had overcoming mindsets. What is the common denominator in the life of people who have been able to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds against them? How are we going to respond to the situations in our personal life? Or to the news published around us? Are we going to 'think critically' or are we going to do 'critical thinking'? And that was exactly what Luke was saying in Luke 1. That we need to think clearly. The only way that Israel was going to overcome the odds set against them was through understanding what was happening to them in the moment of Christ's arrival. The 1st century needed a moment very similar to the 21st century in 2017.
"Empires of men are falling as they are upturned in moments." -NBC Dateline on the Japan earthquake of 2011.
Those were the words used by NBC Dateline describing the earthquake that hit Japan. As we watched the devastation in Japan a few years ago, or, countless other tragedies over the past few years, I am moved by the news of our day:
-Japan saw the worst earthquake in country's history, the 5th largest in world history
-Terrorist attacks globally with hundreds dead
-The financial crisis
-An unprecedented attack against the family
-Many natural disasters
-And countless other crises that crush the American spirit
Reset On The Horizon
It is incomprehensible that such a blessed nation like the U.S. could have its freedoms, affluence, democracy, and systems turned upside down. These events have brought a vast affect and change in America. What have been at one time empires of the American way of life have now been upturned. And a reset is needed. So what are we going to do? How will this generation respond?
Snowflake is the new term for our generation. You know, soft. Or fleeting. Or if you lack constancy. Or if you have no constitution. Or if you need Safe Places on the University Campus. Or if you are Thinking Critically and not doing Critical Thinking. And that 70% of us are unhappy with our country (CNBC). That is a snowflake, as they say. And if we are going to see a reset it will require a change of thinking.
The young people of this nation have a chance to reset our country's culture and ultimately its movement. To see an awakening and a renewal of a sort. Like the introduction of Christ into the Roman Empire. But, this will take time, hard-work, and unity among other things. Let me focus on one main catalyst for this change. What I believe Luke was trying to define for us in his book about the coming of Christ into society. We have to re-think as American young people. To change our default when it comes to injustice, suffering, and hardship. And to see real hope.
It is okay to ask the questions: Is God fair? Where does poverty, famine, and sickness fit into our lives? If God is so loving, how can He allow this and that? Bring the questions. God is not intimidated by our questions. It is our doubt that cripples Him.
A Theology Of Comfort
Luke was challenging our mindsets. To try and get us to think differently. That is why he said, 'in light of everything happening, I want you to think differently'. Our personal theology of comfort can mess with any kind of inequity that comes in our life. We can become entitled and spoiled thinking that we don't deserve this or that. But, elementary to a change in our nation is an emotional quotient (EQ) reformation. It is obvious that the fear of terrorism threatens our American security. And some legislation in government has redefined the American family. And it is true that our own independent free will has placed us in undeniable injustice. But, much of this can be handled with a change of thinking.
In the last year I have been studying the Book of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible. Talk about injustice and inequity. Here is a young man who was righteous, was a noble man in the city, had everything he needed, and had a large family. And yet, he saw so many things happen to him that were 'unfair'. As I began reading the story of Job again, I had to re-think. You cannot just get ticked off while you are reading the story. You have to read to the end of the story. Where God restores everything back to Job and shows us that He has a purpose for everything in our lives.
And, just like other biblical characters such as Joseph, Esther, Daniel, or Paul, we all have to see the purpose in hardship and suffering. The impact that these people had on their world was undeniable. And it is in similar conditions that we as the Church have an opportunity to do the same today. If we do not rise in the midst of the darkness of our age, then who will?
Practical Application Next Week
Healthy mind - healthy life? I think so. And so did Luke. That is why he challenged their thinking in the first 4 verses of his book. Life is not worth throwing away by thinking negatively, doubting that God is good, and believing that your situation is hopeless. Next week we will look at how to create culture and movement in society through spectacular mindsets. I believe in the Youth Ministry of the Church in America. All over this nation young people are rising in the face of hardship, suffering, and injustice. They are leading their families, leading at school, leading at Church, and leading in the community. They are the answer much like Christ is in every society and in every age.
So, how do we develop a spectacular mindset at Christmas and in life in 2017? A healthy emotional quotient (EQ) can have a beautiful, dramatic, eye-catching, and glorious effect upon our thinking. Our thinking affects not only our life, but, the culture around us. In the same way that Christ's arrival impacted the world of the 1st century.