I’m an engineer by training and practice. I’m conditioned to look for how things could go wrong, how they might break.
While this sometimes rather dour outlook can be technically helpful, it can be emotionally corrosive when applied to relationships and attitudes about life. A good friend of mine once observed, “Collier, you can ‘auger in’ faster than anyone I’ve ever met.”
I can take a minor negative development and turn it into a major catastrophe in my mind. I’ve always wondered why I tend to think this way. Apparently, I’m wired to do so …
Our universal “negativity bias”
In an insightful, Dec. 27 Wall Street Journal article, “For the New Year, Say No to Negativity,” authors John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister write, “Bad experiences affect us much more powerfully than good ones, but there are ways to deal with this destructive bias and overcome it … Our minds and lives are skewed by a fundamental imbalance that is just now becoming clear to scientists: the negativity effect. Also known as the negativity bias, it’s the universal tendency for bad events and emotions to affect us more strongly than positive ones.”
They conclude: “Just about every measure of human welfare is improving except one: hope. The better life gets, the gloomier our worldview.”
There is an alternative worldview …
The Bible paints an entirely different picture, not from the tunnel vision of man, but from the all-encompassing view of the Creator and sustainer of our universe:
BEFORE: “… the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19)
As a result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God, Satan effectively wrested the title deed of the world away from mankind and then proceeded to infect the earth and its inhabitants with evil.
Reversing this calamity was leagues above Adam’s “pay grade,” and called for divine intervention. That is where that baby born of a teenage virgin in a disheveled barn 2,000 years ago comes in. He was the Son of God on a mission to defeat Satan and restore righteousness to this sin-weary earth.
The mighty redemptive work that he launched 2 millennia ago continues to this day through his church, “upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
For those who choose to follow Christ, their “benefit package” is beyond imagining.
AFTER: Certain phrases occasionally appear in scripture that are most instructive. One such phrase is “but now,” which sets forth the results of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, life, death and resurrection for believers:
“But now … the righteousness of God … through faith in Christ for all who believe.” (Romans 3:20-22)
“But now … freed from sin and enslaved to God … the outcome, eternal life.” (Romans 6:21-23)
“But now … released from the Law … we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:5-7)
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:19-21)
“But now … you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-14)
“But now you are Light in the Lord … in all goodness and righteousness and truth …” (Ephesians 5:7-9)
“But now … our Savior Christ Jesus … abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:9-11)
“But now He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:5-7)
“But now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:25-27)
“But now you are the people of God … but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-11)
“But now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:24-25)
Wow! Since the advent of Jesus, the world is a changed place, operating under different rules, with a much-improved outcome for Christ-followers — all made possible by His substitutionary death, burial and resurrection.
How About You?
So what room, pray tell, is there in a Christian’s life for negativity? I plan to make 2020 my year to turn off the angry, negatively-biased “news and opinion” hydrants of this tech-crazed world system and listen instead to the still small voice of my Savior in the scriptures.
It’s a whole lot more edifying. Will you join me in this cord-cutting venture?
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.