Fight the Cynic

Rev. James Brooks

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10: 29-37)

It can be frustrating to give all I have in fighting for equality and justice and realize things seem to be getting worse rather than better.  Moreover, frustration comes when I continue to witness firsthand black lives being taken by the droves. While writing this devotion I heard gunshots out of my clinic’s office. A young man had been shot while driving his car. On top of that, a few weeks ago I witnessed a young man get shot in the head. Feeling helpless, all I could tell him was to hold on. Time and time again, gunshot after gunshot, crisis after crisis, trauma after trauma—no change. Soon cynicism knocks on the door.  

I find myself thinking: “Things will never change.” “I’m not really making a difference.” “Does prayer really work?” This is dangerous thinking and antithetical to God’s promises. It caters to Satan’s plan to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).

Cynicism is that dreadful disdain toward all things meaningful. It crushes your faith and destroys your hope. Its subtle contempt contaminates the great moments of cheer and contentment.  In a Desiring God article, Pastor Jonathan Parnell writes, “Cynicism is the thick smoke of pessimism toxifying the oxygen in the lungs of our hope.”

In a world filled with sin, cynicism will perpetually knock at the doors of our souls.  This is something none of us can avoid.  However, rather than denying it, we should face it. Anything that we are not willing to face will never be fixed. Pastor Parnell continues by writing, “In the beauty of Christian paradox, maybe the best way that we might overcome cynicism is not to evade it, but to face it head on. Rather than dodge cynicism, what if we go right after it, look it straight in the eyes, and ‘out-cynicize’ cynicism itself?”

How do you do that? When cynicism knocks on the door – let faith answer.  Faith in God’s promises can conquer any cynical thought. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”
(2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

When cynicism says, “Give up!,” faith says “I walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  When cynicism says, “Things are not looking good,” faith says, “All things work together for those who love the Lord and who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When cynicism says, “I feel so inadequate,” faith says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Cynicism may come, but always introduce your cynicism to your Christ!  Feed and nourish your faith and you’ll drive cynicism from your door. 

Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.                                          

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