Definition of cynicism is an attitude of suspicion where you believe the future is bleak and that people are acting only out of self-interest. An example of cynicism is when you always think the worst and have a hard time seeing the good in anyone. Cynicism and defeated weariness have this in common: they both question the active goodness of God on our behalf. Left unchallenged, their low-level doubt opens the door for bigger doubt. Sadly, this is where I was for about 6 weeks. Unfortunately, I had partnered with a lie and was becoming discouraged with people and the future of NCWC. I had trouble renewing my mind and seeing others and ministry through the eyes of Jesus. It was a slippery slope that was speeding up week after week. I knew I was on the slope but couldn’t get off. I tried desperately to give this attitude a name. I felt it was a spirit of “criticism,” but little did I know it was something much uglier.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a Children’s Ministry Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I was headed to this conference with this critical attitude. In one of the first sessions that we attended some speaker mentioned the word “cynical.” Immediately, the Holy Spirit said, “This is you.” He was right. I looked the definition up and low and behold this was the attitude I had been fostering and that led to festering for the last 6 weeks. Because cynicism is sin, “whatever doesn’t proceed from faith is sin” Romans 14:23 and cynicism is that demeanor where faith can’t exist. Its foundation is unbelief — and its message is unbelief. I immediately repented and asked for forgiveness for being cynical towards people and the future of NCWC.
Some pointed thoughts below that might help one identify if you are being cynical:
1. You expect everything to go wrong. To expect the worst is to completely ignore the entire storyline of Scripture. There’s a progression there, a hopefulness there, a steadfastness there, that makes our cynicism look rather short sighted. Yes, things have gone terribly wrong. And yes, we will face a ton of suffering in this life, some far more than others. But the Bible leads us to believe that “God is working all of these things together for his glory and our good,” Romans 8:28.
2. You only see the worst in people. To be entirely cynical of others would require that we ignore what it means to be human, what it means to be created in the image of God. Yes, every part of us is affected by sin. But that doesn’t mean we are as bad as we could be. We bare the image of a creative and loving God.
3. You think everything in the world is bad. There is joy to be had in this fallen world. Yes, God has placed eternity in our hearts. But that doesn’t mean there are no divine breadcrumbs in this temporal habitat. God made this big beautiful world. It declares his glory. Being cynical of everything would mean we’d have to rip sections like Psalm 19 and Psalm 8 out of the Old Testament since they talk about how creation is filled with grandeur.
4. You downplay the Holy Spirit’s power. If we are to be cynical of everyone and everything we are going to have to completely ignore the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit, Jesus said, is like the wind. He blows wherever he wishes, bringing life with him to all that he touches. Don’t expect the worst. Expect the Spirit to do something supernatural in, around, and through you. That’s far from a cynical outlook, isn’t it?
5. You forget that Jesus wasn’t cynical. How can we be cynical when Jesus has called us to trust Him and walk in His steps? Jesus knew what was in the heart of man. Yet still he loved, and cared, and ministered, and trusted God, and attended parties, and ate, and rested, and wept, and laughed.
Realistic But Without Despair.
It’s true, the world we call home is broken. But we can’t allow ourselves to grow cynical because Genesis 3 is not the last chapter of the story. The Bible ends with a new garden, a feast, and sons and daughters gathered around the risen Lamb. As Christians we live in light of the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, the one who was, and is, and is to come.
Love “always trusts, always hopes” I Corinthians 13:7.
“Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” Romans 13:14.
Children’s Ministry Director