One of my guilty pleasures is the beauty and lifestyle blog realm. There are countless beautiful girls who preach positivity while showing you how to apply over-priced makeup and giving uneducated advice on following your dreams. Despite the cynicism, that stems mostly from admitting the following confession, I enjoy them. With this sub-culture, most of these bloggers carry some New Age pagan beliefs that look like a key terms list from my World Religions class: a culture-lacking mix of Eastern religions. But like I said, they preach positivity. There’s the attraction for me, living from a place of kindness, not allowing “the universe” to get you down.
My dad had always taught me to “try on ideas like hats” to test whether they fit with your core beliefs. “Daughter, sometimes you must take the hats off,” he would say when I would get too excited about God-less feminism or the Eight-Fold Path. With this discernment in hand, I pick up truth where it is, ignoring the lies is may be wrapped in.
But this positivity, this goodness, where does it belong in Christianity?
Lately, I've been putting on Disney movies while working on homework, specifically while translating Greek. (I bet Erasmus did the same) The other night, I was watching my all-time favorite, Sleeping Beauty and translating Hebrews 3 for class (that just summed up who I am as a person). Between participles and μεν-δε constructions I heard a fairy say this line,
"You know our magic doesn't work that way! It can only
do good, dear, to bring joy and happiness."
I smiled down at my wrist, the simple tattoo commemorating the three fairies, but specifically this line. Is that not what Christians are to do?
I mentioned translating Hebrews, this classical(ish) Greek has been running through my veins and remapping my neural pathways (probably). Besides the new and different linguistic components, there is much to be learned regarding theology, too. The writer pulls most of his Christology from the Psalms. Though I had read Hebrews before, I had never given any thought to how large of a role the Psalms play in the rhetoric of the book. Lately, coincidentally enough, I've been reading through the Psalms each evening; after I finish the book through, I simply start over.
Later that evening, after my homework was finished, Psalm 27 was the next in my bedtime lineup.
"I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living."
I find myself often hopeless and critical of this fallen world. Reading political news, keeping up with world crises, and being disappointed in my very own behaviors often leaves me wondering where the good lies. And yet, I am brought to this point of hope: I will see God's goodness HERE. Hemingway wrote in The Old Man and the Sea (my favorite of his books), "It is silly not to hope," and I couldn't agree more. It is silly to refuse to see the good things all around us, for every good thing is from the Lord of hosts.
The goodness of the Lord is not tarot cards or crystals, even shallow positivity. Optimism is not righteousness. Instead, goodness can be found in fervency and discipline in seeking intimacy with the Lord. By submitting myself daily, sometimes minute by minute, to the will and power of my Lord Jesus Christ, goodness can only then exude in my life.
If we are walking through life clothed in the armor of God, goodness should not be far from our character. The helmet of salvation takes our thoughts captive, reminding us of the glory we have been gifted. The breastplate of righteousness serves as a symbol of the Kingdom we live in, as we are given peace and confidence by this righteousness, as the prophet Isaiah says. The belt of truth is our core discernment, being grounded in Truth, that is, Jesus the Christ. Our feet are fitted with the gospel of peace, so that we may be instruments of that very peace. We are guarded with the shield of faith, not allowing any arrow of the enemy through. Finally, we are given the sword of the Spirit, the sustaining declaration of the Lord.
Towards the very end of Sleeping Beauty, the three fairies have equipped the prince to fight the dragon and save the princess, with their magic to do good, and bring joy and happy endings. The leader fairy commands the following seconds before the villain is slain:
"Sword of truth fly swift and sure, that evil die and good endure!”
This is our mission, Brothers and Sisters! We have been equipped by the Holy Spirit to let good endure as we wait for the second coming of the Christ. Though I'd like to preach positivity, I desire to preach something much more meaningful: we are to let good endure, and proclaim Truth “swift and sure.”