“Sending positive vibes your way.”
Some mean it harmlessly. They are just repeating others. Others say it to communicate something spiritual without sounding religious. Still others hope to convey some form of optimism in light of a friend’s grim circumstances.
Fresh out of college and newly married, I remember sitting in a cubicle surrounded by people that did not know or love God. When my coworkers and boss heard that I had miscarried, I received a slew of messages with such “vibes” coming my way. Reading such sentiments on my computer screen left me baffled as to how these people could handle their lives without the real hope that Christ gives.
Now, men and women around the world have walked through their lives with strong optimism toward different cosmic forces or self-help mechanisms. It may have appeared, through the world’s measure of success, that it worked for them. However, we can be certain that a life devoid of gospel transformation will produce only grapes of wrath.
I would like to challenge you, as a believer in Christ, to evaluate the phrases and hashtags you throw out to a world desperate for hope. It may seem harmless enough, but the vibes you’re alluding to are vacuous. Our friends aren’t strong enough on their own to “keep their heads up” and “pull through” life’s challenges, like vain platitudes suggest. No, they were made to find their strength in the God who made them. Theology matters. It doesn’t take long for someone to see the way we deal with the circumstances in our lives. We either have confidence in God or confidence in the flesh.
If we choose to eliminate the life-giving words of God we have access to in the Bible, we are robbing God of glory and people around us of truth. I tremble when considering the flippant words I have spoken to people. Or the words I have spoken that highlighted my own abilities rather than God’s.
A self-help, unbiblical phrase should shake us for two reasons: either we are unaware of the words we use or we believe what we say. Both are warning signs for those in Christ. The chasm between the flesh and the work of the Spirit is not small. It is deep, as far reaching as heaven is from hell. With God or without God.
World’s Wisdom or God’s?
The Psalms enlighten us to the joy-meets-sorrow pattern of the life of a believer. We see Asaph’s fear, anguish, and abandonment met by his sureness of God’s promises, comfort, and presence. We don’t see him trust in his strength of mind. We see the opposite. God met his failing heart and failing mind with his strength and presence, which alone satisfies our souls (Psalm 73).
Romans 8, one of the greatest chapters in the entire Bible, contrasts life in the flesh with life in the Spirit. The wall of hostility, our former position as enemies of the cross, has been shattered by the love of God. The very Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us. We must rely on him, not positive vibes.
Galatians 5 also shows us that the two are polar opposites. Left to ourselves, the desires of the flesh wage war against the Spirit and produce “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19–21). Outside of the Spirit, it is impossible to please God in bearing fruit. It takes the indwelling Spirit of God by the work of Christ to remove the heart of stone and give us a heart that may bear fruit, crucifying “the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).
Resolve to Mean What You Say
Let’s freshly resolve to mean what we say. And when we do speak, we should use new phrases — phrases from God. The word of God empowers us to give real hope instead of following the fads of our culture. God’s words are heart-penetrating, Christ-illuminating, and sufficient to bring real change in this world.
We have an amazing opportunity to display the glory of God to every single person we come into contact with — even virtually. We don’t have to ultra-spiritualize everything, but we can search our hearts (and vocabulary) for phrases that promote life by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh.
Take every thought and phrase captive. What we say matters, especially to those who are hurting.