“You remind me of Eeyore!” she said. Wow! That left a mark. I don’t think of myself as a negative person. Quite the opposite. I’m usually overly optimistic about too many things. But she had a point. Lately, I was complaining a lot.
The Editorial Staff of WebMD posted an article a couple of weeks before Christmas last year titled “Signs of Negative Energy.” I found their post amid numerous articles published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, shamans, and yoga instructors. Apparently, the idea that negative energy exists and can have a detrimental effect on us is widespread and mysterious.
But what is negative energy?
Paul, the apostle, wrote in his letter to the church in Ephesus, “We are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age.”
In a paper titled “Symptoms of Spiritual Crisis and the Therapeusis of Healing,” the Reverend Dr. Beatrice Brandon quotes this text from Ephesians in describing approaches for therapists in treating patients. Emphasizing that context matters, when it comes to this topic, she writes, “The client may experience drastic challenges and changes to their personal meaning system and sense of purpose, world view and beliefs, their own identity and their relationships.”
In other words, negative energy can result in a spiritual crisis.
For many of us, when we sense the presence of negative energy, we think of bad spirits. An energy that is more destructive than a bad attitude. In fact, negative energy may be the primary cause of bad attitudes.
When I first arrived to begin my appointment as pastor of Asbury, I was immediately confronted with a sense of negative energy. I shook it off, suspecting my lack of familiarity and that the scenes of abandoned buildings I saw for the first time. The sight of so much blight added anxiety to what should have been an inspiring experience. Looking back, however, I’m convinced that my initial assessment was correct. I had come into the presence of negative energy.
I validated the obvious as someone who turns to data before drawing conclusions based purely on my observations. Our community is mainly populated with families facing economic struggles. Scarcity is the pervasive theme that negative energy feeds on. And there are signs of poverty in every direction.
My research into the root causes of poverty led me to conclude that scarcity results from broken relationships. If my hypothesis is correct, then solutions that address poverty that focus entirely on addressing scarcity aren’t sustainable because they’re incomplete. Healing broken relationships, on the other hand, is the cure that eliminates scarcity.
This revelation explains why our communities continue to struggle after three decades of emergency relief costing millions. Yet, addressing the needs with handouts alone continues to be the go-to strategy for most of our responses.
But what is the cure for broken relationships?
The word “gospel” is an announcement of good news. For Christians, the Gospels are four books that tell the stories of God fulfilling the divine promises of a Messiah. The truth is that God’s love is eternally pervasive, as evidenced through the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The key to healthy relationships begins with our connection with God. But how do we better connect with God to enjoy each other and move from scarcity to abundance?
In our companion book for this series, Daughter of Cana, author Angela Hunt shares stories of Jesus through the eyes of ordinary people finding ways to get by in an atmosphere of scarcity. The main character, Tasmin, suffered a childhood tragedy that kept her from breaking free even though she tried hard to do what the scripture said she should do.
For example, Tasmin faithfully said a ritual prayer each morning and evening that reminded her of the importance of devotion to God. And she happily gave a portion of whatever she had to the church. Yet something was missing.
One day, Jude, a romantic interest, said something that became life-changing for Tasmin. “God wants us,” he said, “Every part of each of us!”
Her revelation came from something Jesus said to a group of men hoping to trick Him into making a gaff they could use against Him. Their trap began by asking Jesus if paying taxes to Rome conflicted with their religious practices. The trap was subtlety brilliant. But Jesus saw through it.
“Bring me one of the coins used to pay taxes to Rome,” Jesus responded. Holding up the coin they brought Him, Jesus asks, “Whose image appears on this coin?” Roman currency featured an image of Caesar. The answer Jesus gave is powerful. “Give to Rome what belongs to them,” He said.
Pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God
But then Jesus added the prescription for connecting with God. “Give to God that which belongs to God!” Which is everything, including every part of each of us.
There is an overwhelming negative energy swirling around our communities. I know that you can feel it. It is so pervasive that, at any particular point, large numbers of Eeyores emerge to remind us of prevailing scarcity. Worse, this negative energy poisons our relationship with the people we count on. And the result is a brokenness that leads to poverty.
But there is an antidote to negative energy. A prescription that is free and doesn’t lead to addictions that result in scarcity. Rather, giving all that we are to Jesus Christ leads to abundance.
You can join us each Sunday in person or online by clicking the button on our website’s homepage – Click here to watch. This button takes you to our YouTube channel. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.
A reminder that we publish this newsletter that we call the Circuit Rider each week. You can request this publication by email. Send a request to connect@FlintAsbury.org or let us know when you send a message through our website. We post an archive of past editions on our website under the tab, Connect – choose Newsletters.
Our series was inspired by and relies on content provided by Angela Hunt. Daughter of Cana. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2020.
WebMD Editorial Contributors. Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD. “Signs of Negative Energy.” © WebMD, December 11, 2022. Retrieved from: link.