Cynicism dulls our souls. We’re surrounded by cynicism. Nothing is as it seems and everyone has an ulterior motive. Paul Miller in his book, A Praying Life addresses cynicism. He points out that cynicism has been with us since the garden.
Satan’s first recorded words are cynical. He tells Adam and Eve. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). Satan is suggesting that God’s motives are cynical. In essence, he tells them, “God has not been honest about the tree in the middle of the garden. The command not to eat from the tree isn’t for your protection, God wants to protect himself from rivals. He’s jealous. He is projecting an image of caring for you, but he really has an agenda to protect himself. God has two faces.”
I’m a natural cynic. It’s something I find easy to be proud of, to wear as a badge of honor. Politically, I’m cynical of Democrats… and Republicans. What are they looking for in that bill? What do they “really” mean when they say, “This is good for you”? Nothing is to be believed or trusted.
Politics is one thing, but cynicism can also deaden our hearts towards God. I question God’s goodness. Small doubts turn into big doubts and nothing seems as it appears. I no longer trust God’s promises, and certainly doubt his provision. Cynicism erodes, slowly – drip, drip, drip at my soul. How is it that cynicism sneaks up? Paul Miller says:
… Cynicism is an easy sell. Because cynicism sees what is “really going on,” it feels real, authentic. That gives cynicism an elite status since authenticity is one of the last remaining public virtues in our culture.
Authenticity often clothes itself in cynicism. It’s easier to be cynical then to be truly authentic. When I’m cynical I feel smarter, wiser, cooler. Add a little pride to the mix, and my cynicism is ready to critique and analyze every scripture, every doctrine. I keep myself, my heart, aloof from the penetrating truth of scripture, the implications of following Jesus, the simplicity of a child-like faith.
To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being “in the know,” cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to a creeping bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit.
What’s the cure? Well, if being cynical I’d say “who knows?” Thankfully though, scripture breaks in and points to a simple trust in God who is my refuge and my fortress. I only need abide in the shadow of the Almighty, the shelter of the Most High.
He who dwells in a the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91: 1-2)
Do you find yourself fighting cynicism? How do you battle creeping cynicism? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.
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