I’m sure we’ve all had experiences with a negative person before. And be honest…you may be that kind of person yourself! The person who never sees a silver lining in gray clouds or who finds a reason to complain about every single detail in life. Now, I know we all have our moments and bad days where nothing is going right, but I’m talking about a constant cloud of negativity and pessimism.
Can you imagine that someone could even nitpick over something good? Well that’s exactly what happened in John chapter 5 when Jesus healed an invalid at the pool of Bethesda.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” 11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” 12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” 13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
I find this such an interesting story of how easily we can prevent joy and excitement with our own negative attitudes. The Pharisees, the religious elite of Jesus’ day, harass the man who was healed because the healing occurred on the Sabbath. It’s hard for me to fathom that they could look at this man, finally walking after 38 years of being paralyzed, and show any other reaction besides joy and amazement. But that’s exactly what they did, and believe it or not, it still happens today!
I have seen people who are new babes in Christ criticized for not having their life together like some other self-righteous Christians do. I’ve watched people leave the assembly over being ridiculed for how they dress or having tattoos. I’ve even witnessed Christians become discouraged because they are not serving in the manner or capacity as someone else thinks they should.
If I could, I would tell these arrogant people to quit hating on others all the time and quit designing a form of religion that shuts out everyone who doesn’t fit the “mold.” Quit preventing people from knowing God and entering his kingdom (Matthew 23:13). What we all need to do as followers of God is find those silver linings that really are everywhere in our lives. Dwell on the blessings we do have and learn to deeply experience what the “good news” actually means. It means that we are saved by the blood of Jesus through obedience to the gospel. We don’t deserve one bit of that gift but he offers it nonetheless. And if that really sinks in, we’ll do everything we can to show how happy we are in Christ. That’s the kind of attitude that will really change the world.