Michael Medved, a conservative Jewish film critic and frequent commentator on American culture, delivered a lecture called “Protecting Our children from a Plague of Pessimism.” Sounding more like a preacher than a popular talk show guest, he said, “This depressed and nihilistic attitude toward life could be the biggest threat to America today—and the most pressing problem in American education.” He cited a University of ‘Chicago study which demonstrated the essence of our dilemma: “Human beings will not learn, will not grow, and will not develop good character traits if they believe that discipline and hard work are pointless, that life is meaningless and unfair, and that the outlook for the future is grim.” Medved says the plague’s main symptom is a crybaby culture, a national orgy of whining and self-pity. Consider all the news from major college campuses where “safe spaces” are provided for those students who can’t handle ideas that differ from their own. What makes them this way? Among other things he blames the distorted world of the media. He writes, “The major problem with the media today isn’t too much sex or too much violence or too much rude behavior; it is too much TV period.” He even blames our plague of pessimism on a lack of belief in God. If there is no God or justice, why try?
Before you begin wringing your hands in frustration, lamenting how bad things have gotten, just remember this: these were the same symptoms exhibited by the world into which Christianity was born. God knew what He was doing when He prepared the Gospel to penetrate the spiritual vacuum of the first century. It literally turned the world upside down. It brought a divinely ordained system of morals and ethics where the old immorality once reigned. It produced ambition and hard work. And it returned hope to the human heart.
So here we go again. If the gospel of Jesus Christ was successful in overcoming diseased cultures of the past it can do the same today. It is not only time to see the tremendous challenges that confront our faith but to see the opportunities they present to us as well. People all about us are hungry for something that has meaning. God’s people need to awaken to what they already possess in Jesus Christ. Instead of hiding what we have in embarrassment, we need to be sharing it openly, unashamed. The only way to overcome a plague of pessimism is by an outbreak of optimism, in this case, rooted in the person and promises of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship