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SIN-icism May 13, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity, cynicism, sin, The Church.

A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future. —Sydney J. Harris

 Serving at the Journey Youth Community is easily one of the highlights of my week. Every Wednesday, I look forward to hanging out, worshipping, and seeking God with the teenagers and other adult leaders. But, last night my patience grew thin as the service went on. I was becoming so upset that I actually tweeted, “The only thing I hate more than Charismatic Christianity right now is non-Charismatic Christianity.” As I thought about it later that night, I had trouble pinning down what actually bothered me in the service. We really didn’t do anything hokey or anything like TV Charismatics do. In fact, it was probably one of the best services we’ve had in awhile. So why was I so upset?

I think the Lord answered me in one word: “cynicism.” I’ve become more and more cynical when it comes to my faith. Don’t get me wrong, I think a certain level of cynicism can be healthy. Often times, we become cynical when we are honest about ourselves, our friends, and our churches. When that happens, cynicism can be a catalyst for change. However, I think there comes a time when we just become cynical to be cynical. We no longer believe change can actually happen so everytime we go to church we just make snide remarks on Facebook and Twitter that are meant to placate our egos rather than get people thinking about change. I think this is when cynicism goes from being healthy and honest to just being sin. Healthy cynicism is based on the hope that things can change, while sinful cynicism believes that change is completely hopeless.

I think I’m at a crossroads when it comes to my cynicism and I think I know where both paths lead. There are two people I follow on Twitter that have taken different cynicism paths. One goes by the name of @hollywoodpastor and the other goes by the name of @prodigaljohn. I met @hollywoodpastor on a couple of occasions. He was a really nice guy who loved (and still does love) Jesus. He seemed really happy, but he wasn’t afraid to call out the Church if need be. However, through some bad events his cynicism grew. Now he comes off as angry more than anything, and most of his tweets call for Christians to leave the Church. He believes there is no hope for the Body of Christ as it is. It’s sad. What’s sadder is that I can really see where he’s coming from sometimes. I just don’t think calling for Christians to abandon the Church is wise. For all of its warts, I think the Church still has hope. I think change can still happen. I don’t think angrily calling for it’s destruction is healthy cynicism.

On the other path, however, is @prodigaljohn. @prodigaljohn wrote a book and has a blog called Stuff Christians Like. It’s a satirical, and yes cynical, look at the silly things people in the Church do. The difference between @prodigaljohn and @hollywoodpastor is that @prodigaljohn’s call to the Church is one to look at itself and laugh, rather than leave. Changes absolutely need to be made. But, it’s better to point them out and laugh at them rather than point them out and flip them off.

My cynicism had overtaken me, is  what I learned last night. Even when we had a good night, I couldn’t notice it because I was so caught up in being cynical. That’s not healthy, hopeful, or helpful cynicism. It was just plain sinful.

Are you overly cynical at times?

What are some examples of healthy cynicism? What are some examples of unhealthy cynicism?

Do you think being cynical can be sinful?



1. James Pate - May 14, 2010

Good post. I wish I could give some wisdom here, but I identify more with that hollywoodpastor!

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