An Antidote to Negativity

Posted: February 25, 2015
This entry by Briercrest Seminary Professor, Dr. Eric Ortlund

I have an increasing sense that one way daily praying-through of Scripture is important and liberating is how it confronts and derails my own negativity, my own smallness and narrowness. I don't wake up naturally happy and expansive. I intractably devolve to a default position of small and vague thoughts of God. I don't naturally think of him as a welcoming father, a warm and merciful and sympathetic high priest, someone more sympathetic with me than I am with myself. I tend to forget that - and to resist it when I'm reminded.

Of course, if I were more cheerful by disposition, that would be no guarantee of avoiding the problem I'm talking about. Morning birds can be just as self-absorbed and small-minded when it comes to God.

It's unpredictable. I never quite know what in the passage will jump off the page, even if it's passage I'm familiar with, or one I've taught repeatedly. Which is a little frustrating: it's easier to revert to just reading and then getting on with my to-do list, because that's predictable and control-able (but so much less nourishing).

The other day I was finishing Romans and I came across the command to receive one another (whether you eat meat or not) as Christ has already received you, to the glory of God (Rom 15.7). Without using the words of Scripture to pray, it's easy to skip by that last phrase. But to think that God receiving and welcoming a sinner, a bum with needle marks in his arm, a hooker, or a self-righteous hypocritical recovering Pharisee like me - he doesn't hurry us in through the back door, looking around nervously to make sure no-one else sees or it will hurt his reputation. He rolls out the red carpet for us and holds a press conference. It glorifies God to welcome sinners of all stripes. It makes him look good. It displays his best qualities to associate with people who disgust us, to make friends with them. And oh, what relief, what release, from my own cold, sad attempts at spirituality it is to read, read over and over, and worship.
Read more from Dr. Eric Ortlund on his blog, Scatterings