Last week, my friend Danny shared a story of miraculous healing. After 20 years of wrestling with the painful, and at times debilitating, effects of severe Coeliac Disease, God undeniably and radically touched his body.
As he shared each stunning nuance of his supernatural encounter at our weekly pastors’ group meeting, the mood in the room notably shifted. I’d like to tell you that eight faith-filled spiritual leaders worshiped God in celebration of Danny’s physical renewal, but that lie would be equally un-pastoral.
In reality, we (led by me) launched into 90 minutes of cynicism-laced venom about our own encounters with false prophets, fake healings, and “charismania” abuses.
At the end of our time together, we did find the courage to repent and thank God for what He had so beautifully done in Danny’s life. Ahhh, the wonder of cynicism.
Cynicism is quietly admired. In fact, I’d almost say it’s a sought-after character trait in our culture today. Perhaps even more so in Christian circles. But in our (right and understandable) desire to sidestep institutional, emotional, and spiritual abuse, has crass criticism and mass distrust become our new energizing mechanism of choice?
Is that necessarily bad?
- The Reformation built holy momentum by calling out the institutional fallacies of it’s time.
- If MLK hadn’t found the courage to criticize the accepted evils of the status quo, African Americans would still be sitting on the backs of buses and drinking from separate water fountains.
- Heck, even Jesus Himself knew how to throw down on some abusive religious hierarchy.
We need honesty. We need clarity. We need courage. We need leaders who can refocus the truth. But sometimes, I think we embrace cynicism as a cowardly sidestep to real transformation. Real leadership.
Cynicism is a cop-out. It dismisses categorically. Strains out truth along with the perversion. It keeps us from having to step into the tension of uncomfortable, mysterious, messy situations. It feeds on fear and past abuse. It’s a cheap (and tempting) power grab.
So how do we negotiate these waters? How do we remain shrewd, wise, truthful, and yet avoid this type of broad-scoped judgment and condemnation? Is cynicism always wrong? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
What makes you cynical?