One of the biggest struggles I have dealt with over the past 4-5 years is cynicism. The struggle has manifested itself in different ways and is mainly a direct result of poor perspective. The tough part, especially over the past couple years, has been being in particular settings where there are “invitations,” emotional responses in worship gatherings, boo hoo-ing, “final calls” from the communicator on stage, technology heavy atmospheres, spiritual jargon, etc. The list could go on. Not all of these settings are necessarily bad, but if not nurtured correctly everything can become old hat resulting in staleness of some kind. You begin questioning everything from an unbelievable point of view. Things begin to seem less and less genuine. For the kid that makes a decision to change his school for Jesus, your response is “Great bro. Go get ‘em.” However, your mind is sarcastically saying “Yea, sure kid.” During invitations, 50 kids walk down the aisle, and you begin to make a guesstamate of how many are going to follow through with their decisions. It is not healthy. The problem stems from many different areas but is rooted in arrogance. There is a sense that you know better. It’s dangerous. It can lead you to a pretty dark place.
The question has usually been, “What is deemed a worthy response?” I mean, maybe I should try not to have a response. It’s all building on top of each other. All the cynicism is doing is robbing me of my joy. I’m becoming less happy and more critical. What little encouragement I have is out the window.
The easy thing to do is sweep the cynical lifestyle under the rug and call it being discerning. Don’t misunderstand. In the midst of these times, I know that it is important to be discerning of what is taking place, and I believe that it is more than possible for this to be true. However, I have come to find out that there is a distinct line between being cynical and discerning. For the cynic to call himself a discerning Christian is like a tiger calling itself a duck. You are what you are; what is taking place in your heart is ultimately what will be filtered through your actions and speech.
A discerning Christian is one that approaches people and situations with love and concern. It is not out of a critical demeanor but one that actually gives a crap about the edification of others. That’s the problem with cynicism. In the end, it really doesn’t care for the well being of people. Nor does it honor God.
Praise God for bringing me out of some dark times in life. Like I said before, it was a direct result of poor perspective. It can be so easy to lose focus of what is truly important, and that is Jesus and his church. When I lose focus on that, I feel like I can step in and play God in the judgment seat of humanity. I think that maybe I have something better to offer than anyone else. I get the thought that I am not expendable. Thoughts that my way is the best way, period. Once again, I struggle with being arrogant. All because I lose perspective of what is priority.
I think another reason I sometimes fall into a state of cynicism has something to do with a lack of obedience to the great commission. Here we have the closing statements of Jesus in Matthew 28. It is a calling not only to evangelize but to disciple. That’s a concept that I seldom linked together in ministry. I thought maybe that it was one or the other at different times, but the fact of the matter is that they go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.
Anyway, what I have learned and what I am continuing to learn is that you have to maintain healthy perspective in pursuing God. As perspective becomes distorted, so does your sense of judgment. Jesus is our aim and serving the church is our desire. Good discernment is birthed from this. I desire a humble and submissive heart.
Cynicism is straight dumb….
“The dead man and the cynical too, are coming out of their graves just for You.”
-John Mark McMillan