It has been said that a cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.
An arrogant negativity, as it were.
There are also other characteristics that define cynicism, such as a lack of trust, lack of grace, ungrateful, arrogant, bitter, jaded, hopeless, skeptical, pessimistic, etc. I could go on giving words that describe the cynic, and paint word pictures for you that you potentially would be all too familiar with, as I’m sure you have your own pictures that arise when you think of the Cynic in your life — maybe you see yourself.
I think though — and I could be wrong here — that the route of cynicism is mere brokenness. The cynical man has been jaded by life’s circumstances. His positive outlook on life has been chipped away at over the years by failed relationships, unmet expectations, and unforeseen events. People have hurt him along the way. Things have happened in his life that have all but crushed him. He is not even close to the success he hoped to achieve when he was younger. His mistakes are piled as high as his regrets. He now views the world through a foggy lens of negativity, and he’s absolutely certain — or hopeless — that it will always be this way. For this type of man, things will never change. He is hurting. He is indeed broken. He feels cursed.
He needs a King.
In reality, cynicism is idolatry. It’s a displacement of God for yourself. It’s a response to the circumstances of life where you are the center of everything. The cynic has a view of man, events, or the future that denies God’s goodness, sovereignty, grace, and power. Again, he may not speak this way in his theology, but he lives this way in his heart.
Allow me to explain myself.
The gospel shows me that I am a broken man. Without Christ, I am nothing. The cynic, however, is a pretender. He knows this to be true in his mind, but this truth is not being watered in his heart. Or maybe, it can no longer be watered. His heart has been hardened by his experiences. This man’s experiences has led to his brokenness. The gospel, however, shows us that we are and have always been broken apart from Christ.
The cynic needs a fresh or new reality to take place in his life. He needs to be reminded — like we all do — that brokenness is not a state that we “arrive at” because of the circumstances in this world. We are broken. He have always been that way.
Our hope must forever and always be grounded in the King. It is King Jesus who takes our brokenness and fills it with hope — a hope that transcends the circumstances, events, and relationships of this world. In fact, when Christ becomes the King of our world, our circumstances, events, and relationships are seen with a new perspective. A fresh perspective. A redeemed perspective.
After all, it was Jesus who said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
This is what the cynic needs.
Rest. Restoration. Redemption. Newness. A King.
When we realize and embrace Christ’s Kingship over our lives, then we come to understand that our lives are not our own. We have been bought with a great price (1 Cor. 6:20). When we realize this, our cynic minds become humble, gentle, tender, and hopeful minds.
Cynic, I encourage you to trust in that truth. Believe in that truth. Hope in that truth.
After all, to hope in the hope of this world is no hope at all.
ABOUT GREG: Greg serves as the family ministries pastor at Foothills Church in Knoxville, TN and as the assistant editor of Manual for CBMW. He has a lovely wife, Grace, and 2 children–Cora and Iver.
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