We are a people of hope
July 23, 2012
by Pastor Steve Olson, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Dassel

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:8)

“Look on the bright side of things!” Whenever I hear someone say that, I know it is said with the best of intentions, and is, in fact, good advice. Yet, there is a part of us that doesn’t want to look on the bright side of things. The bright side is boring. There is no news there. All the excitement is on the dark side. At least, that is what you would think, if you tuned in to the all news channels.

Maybe that is because they have tried to turn news into entertainment and they know that bad news sells, but is it really good for us? Does a steady diet of all the drama and suspense really make our world a better place?

I would suggest the opposite is true. The thrill of a roller coaster ride is fine in an amusement park, but we don’t need the emotional roller coaster of a 24-hour news cycle that creates a climate of fear.

What we need to do is to share the sure and certain hope we have in Christ Jesus. We need to be “good news people,” who aren’t afraid to say “Hey, it is not all bad out there. There are people of honor and justice. There are people striving to live pure, pleasing, and commendable lives. There are truly some excellent and amazing things, worthy of praise. These are the things that make this world a better place, and that is what we choose to lift up.”

We choose to be a people of hope; and one way to make sure we stay on track with that choice is a simple four-way test of the things we think, say, and do:

1. Is it the truth?

2. Is it fair to all concerned?

3. Will it build good will and better friendships?

4. Is it beneficial to all concerned?

This four-way test serves as an excellent guide for my life as a Rotarian, which is the service club that developed it. At the same time, though, mindful of Paul’s advice, I think it is also an excellent guide for us as Christians and citizens.