The following is a guest post from Nathaniel Bennett.
Researchers in the U.K. recently conducted a study that showed people are most attracted to negative content on the internet. You can read about it in the article, Want to be popular on the Internet? Be a Jerk! Using a system called “sentiment analysis” they were able to categorize posts in online forums by the type of emotion they convey. Perhaps not surprisingly, negative posts were overwhelmingly more popular.
It’s long been known that human beings are addicted to conflict. Let’s face it, conflict is entertaining. There has never been a successful movie produced that wasn’t focused on some sort of struggle. Reality shows, novels, TV dramas, Shakespeare, political radio, and even the evening news, are all popular because they appeal to our natural desire for conflict. Negativity breeds conflict and conflict sells.
It’s tempting as Christians to let negativity dominate our faith. It would be easier and certainly more entertaining to indulge in the controversy and drama that surrounds religion these days. There’s a never ending supply of things to get angry about and a vast sea of people who can’t wait to profit off it. Despite the natural attraction however, negativity is simply not where God wants our focus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
It’s interesting just how diametrically opposed that verse is to todays’ culture. We spend far too much time being angry about things that aren’t important. For instance, deep down I know that I will never, ever, under any circumstances “win” an argument on the internet, but somehow that doesn’t stop me from trying. A theological argument with a cynical stranger is probably not the best use of my time and almost certainly not helping God’s kingdom. Eventually negativity and strife will steal the limelight and push aside what’s really important.
If I’m not focusing on what’s pure, good, virtuous, and praise worthy, then I’m certainly not focusing on Jesus.
[Image via: European Parliament – Creative Commons]
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
When I was in high school, in Wauconda, Illinois, there was a boy named Carl Shook in my class who had some type of debilitating disease that left him crippled. It also effected his ability to speak. Being the mush for brains high schoolers that we were, we loved to tease Carl about his body, his speech, and anything else we could think of. Carl was an easy target. In October, a month before elections would be held for Student Council government, I got the brilliant idea that it would be hilarious if I talked Carl into running for Class President. What a great joke on Carl, and on the Student Council system, if a cripple who had trouble speaking, were to run. Of course he could never win, but at least he’d campaign and the thought of Carl campaigning struck me as funny.
Carl, whose mind was not effected by his disease, and who was actually very intelligent, loved the idea of running for office. So I became his campaign manager and we filled out the proper paper work to get him on the ballot.
As I spent time with Carl I got to know him better and better. And as I got to know him, as I recruited others to help in his campaign, as I designed and created Carl’s campaign posters, something interesting began to happen. Carl’s desire, not just to run, but to win and serve as Class President, became my desire also.
God’s hand was on that election, because, amazingly, Carl won! And after he was in office he took the job seriously. Carl Shook turned out to be one of the best Class Presidents Wauconda High School ever had.
When you spend time in close fellowship with God, when you delight yourself in Him, you begin a cycle of prayer that results in Him giving you the desires of your heart.
Why? Because as you spend time with someone you become more like them, you begin to share the same feelings, the same thoughts, the same desires.
As you spend time in fellowship with God, the desires of your heart become the same as the desires of God’s heart!
You get to the point where there’s nothing you want more than the same things that God wants for you.
Do you want your prayers answered? Spend time with Jesus.
- Go to church
- Read God’s word
- Hang out with Christians
- Worship Him, sing praise songs and hymns to Him
- Take communion
- Meditate on His word
- Serve Him
- Invest your life in Him
Hang with Jesus and watch what happens — “He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) For where you invest yourself is where your heart will be found. Jesus tells us:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Invest yourself in Him.
Chuck Smith, Living Water, p.84-85, Word for Today, 2007