Cynical (adjective): distrustful of human sincerity or integrity; doubtful as to whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile; synonyms: sceptical, doubtful, distrustful, suspicious, disbelieving, scoffing, pessimistic, negative, hardened, world-weary, disillusioned, disenchanted, jaundiced, bleak.
Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard not to be cynical. An endless news cycle of disease, corruption, violence, and exploitation frustrate our enjoyment of life and wear away at our optimism. Sometimes it’s hard not to close our newspapers or shut down our social media apps in the morning without a resigned sigh.
But is this the way it should be? Should Christians walk through life with a permanent scoff and hardened scepticism? Dan DeWitt, author of Life in the Wild: Fighting for Faith in a Fallen World, suggests not. He provides 5 reasons why Christians shouldn’t be cynical. I’d like to share them with you:
1. We know how this story ends: 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 (Rom. 8:28).
2. We are God’s image bearers: 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 bear the image of a creative and loving God and even those who deny his existence will end up letting his image show through in all kinds of ways they don’t realise.
3. Eternal joy starts now: 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. We should expect good things: 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. 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.
We can’t be 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.
With hope-filled optimism,