The Cynical Christian
‘Time in the Word’ By Clayton Adams
Recently, I was reminded of how much more changing I need, how much more I need to become more like Christ.
A Christian is a person who believes in and follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. Sometimes I can be a good Christian.
A Cynic is “a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons.” A more modern definition includes, “an attitude characterized by a general distrust of others’ motives.” Sometimes I can be a good cynic. Sometimes I can be a cynical Christian. I do not like being a cynical Christian.
I was sitting in Sunday School and found myself listening intently to the prayer requests from various people. It is good to bring our own needs and the needs of others before a group of people to pray for. The Bible instructs us to do this very thing. I soon found myself being very cynical.
As the leader began to pray for the needs mentioned, I found myself watching those who shared their requests. My wife nudged me and said, “you’re supposed to close your eyes while we’re praying.”
I already knew I was to close my eyes, but did you know one can pray with eyes opened? The problem was, I wasn’t praying, I was in a mood, a cynical mood and I do not know why, I just was.
As the class leader prayed, I watched the actions of those who mentioned their prayer need – I wondered, how important their prayer needs were to them. I noticed one who mentioned her need, as soon as she had finished sharing her need, she began checking her cell phone and chatting with a friend sitting next to her. I thought to myself (my cynicism shining brightly), she thought her prayer request was important to mention to others, but the others who shared their needs must not have been as important as hers because she started tapping on her cell phone and chatting with someone sitting next to her – even after prayer started! I didn’t pray for anyone or anything, my cynical self was in full throttle and picking up speed.
My eyes latched on to another person who mentioned a need – this person was sitting with his back to the speaker, legs and arms crossed, as if to say, ‘I don’t care.” I don’t know why the person was sitting with his back to the leader, it does not really matter, does it?
Another person mentioned a need for a friends’ family. Giving more information than she needed to give, (we Christians are good at disguising gossip, ‘being in the know’ and knowing something others do not and presenting these as “prayer requests”) I wondered, did the person presenting the need have a burden for her friends family or a burden to “share” something others did not know? Yes, I know that was a very cynical thought. Cynics easily and almost always move into being a critic.
Critics are people who find fault with every person and event for any miniscule reason. Critics do not need a valid reason to criticize they have a “gift” to share their opinion even if no one ever asks. With prayer over and the teacher now teaching, I heard nothing, felt nothing, did not contribute nothing of value and probably, I assume, looked like a cynical, critical, unhappy person (Christian).
Allowing my cynicism to overwhelm me, led me to being critical of others.
But the worst was yet to come. The final step in this vicious cycle of sin is pride. Pride is the root of cynicism, criticism, arrogance, false humility and so many other human characteristics.
Pride is dangerous, deceptive, it destroys individuals, families, churches and nations. Pride is what got Satan thrown down from heaven, we read, “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the North. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14).
Satan was the praise and worship leader in Heaven but his pride rose to such a level he couldn’t keep it in check. When pride fills our soul, we cannot see things correctly, pride causes us to suspect others and very soon destroys relationships. If faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:6), then pride is the substance of destruction, the evidence of a soul in need of God to do a work in the heart.
God said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
“I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:910). And so, the human heart is full of pride, but we don’t like to admit our pride so we do anything and everything to hide it, disguise it, but there is the truth of my problem — human pride.
I am being honest about my experience; I know there will be some folks will have disgust for me, perhaps stop reading these articles. Others will be able to identify with my cynicism and identify with my moodiness and pride, my failures.
My hope is that others will recognize how easy it is for Christians to be very much like the rest of the world. Christians have the same problems, hangups and issues, as anyone who is not a Christian. The issue for Christians is to let God’s Holy Spirit bring to our attention the areas of sin in our lives. In my case this one day it was cynicism, criticism and pride.
What is God showing you about your areas of sin in your life?
Clayton Adams has a message of faith he would like to share with the community. He would also like to hear from you. E-mail him at claytonpadamslll@ gmail.com.