People. I have little-to-no optimism when it comes to people (outside of my husband and Duck, of course).
This pessimism has originated from my non-christian years. Too many times in my early life I was disappointed by those who should have been my security net. Back then in my immaturity I simply said 'people stink' as a summary to my opinion. Actually, now that I see the world in two categories - saved and not saved. I can understand those that can be dissappointing when they are not saved - like they have an excuse for living selfishly.
However, living among christians, my distrust of people who claim to be saved hasn't really changed. In alot of ways it has sprouted. Although I don't often summarize my feelings the same crass way, all my 'spidey senses' go off as soon as someone new tells me they are christian. I simply sit back and think 'we'll see, won't we. Actions speak louder than words'.
Too many times I have watched the same scenario play out just in our little corner of the church. People join in and jump on board with enthusiasm;
homeschooling? great idea!
courtship? great idea!
trusting God's plan for finances? great idea! - the list of lifestyle issues goes on.
It never fails to make my pessimistic smile sneak across my face when these long-time christian people say, "oh, I wish I had found these scriptures before!" Hmmm...were these scriptures hiding? (As you can see, pessimism and sarcasm go hand in hand for me)
These people certainly can be part of our church family for extended amounts of time - years, even decades. We have had people who regularly participated in church, gushing with pride over their 'convictions', and then the time comes when they get insulted, upset or too tired to keep up the facade (oddly, it seems to occur when children reach the teen years). These same 'christians' point to the very reasons they wanted to be part of our church as their reasons for disagreement;
homeschooling? it's too demanding
courtship? unreasonable for today's youth
trusting God's financial plan? too difficult to keep tithing; etc.
However, don't dare remind them of the very scripture that originally enlightened them! That will ensure animosity and that will make you their 'reason' for leaving. Those who live successfully (by the grace of God) with biblical conviction will be accused of being elitist or self-righteous - and the bitterness builds where friendship once was found. Even King David was familiar with these type of people:
Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.
Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.
For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:
But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.
We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. Psalm 55:10-14
The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:21&22
To be clear, I'm not so self-righteous to claim that I will never fail in my walk with Christ - claiming that would ensure a sudden lightening bolt! And I am learning to lean on patience rather than judgement with new christians.
Will my pessimism ever change when it comes to people? Only God could change that for me. I am learning to appreciate people at the time they are growing and avoiding judging their sincerity - or predicting their exit. Their heart can only be read by the Lord, and that is probably a good thing! If our hearts could be read by each other our churches would likely be empty! In the end, it is my growth, service and commitment to the Lord that should be my only concern.
It has, however, been made clear to me that those who attend church because of the people or programs (social), will end up leaving because of the people or programs.
Every time another person or family falls away from the faith they proclaimed so loudly is not a time to say 'I told you so' or to analyze what 'their problem is'. No, each time someone falls away I need to ask, 'do I have my heart in church for Christ?' Thank you, Lord, I can say I do. Predicting the future can stay in His hands!
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and create a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10