Weekly Thought – February 23, 2021
Fred saw himself as someone who did “crooked thinking on the straight and narrow.” He saw truth, and worked to avoid cynicism. He once turned down a book offer because they wanted him to write a “tell all” about Christian leaders. He flatly refused.
Cynicism has no integrity. Cynicism often properly evaluates the present, but has no hope for the future. As Christians we are not without hope. Christians believe in the possibilities of the future. Our responsibility is to make a difference, not to drop out.
Recently a bright, young executive asked me to lunch. He opened the conversation by saying, “I serve on several Christian boards and have been invited to join two national ministry boards. But as a businessman I have become cynical at what I see. You have been in it all your life. How have you avoided cynicism?” I freely admitted I have a certain level of skepticism but I hope it is kept to a healthy level. I doubt you can be in and around Christian service as long as I have without it. I have found any human activity whether in religious work, or not, contains the frailties of humankind. To me, healthy humor eases the tension between where we are and where we ought to be. We certainly see the clay feet and too often hear the sanctimonious way of skirting the issues. There are times when the way sin is garbed in ecclesiastical raiment is so ridiculous you just have to laugh about it.
At the risk of being thought irreverent about unexpected humor in a very serious situation. Of course, with my slightly askew way of looking at things, I tend to reframe with humor. This time I did – at my father’s funeral. It was held in a large church, with many local preachers in attendance to honor my father who had served as a pastor for decades. Officiating was the new minister recently named as the senior pastor and the former, older pastor just retired. They were both showmen and the situation was just too overpowering for them to avoid the temptation to outshine the other. Shortly into the service I wrote my brother a note, “Watch these two try to outdo each other.” One, known for his mastery of scripture, reeled off passage after passage. The other was a great orator, and following the younger man, he preached in high style causing the angels to fly off the ramparts of heaven. I wasn’t offended because I knew my father would have delighted in the show. His boisterous Irish laugh would have been heard throughout the church. Both were Godly, sincere men who got caught up in a situation that became a contest.
To become cynical would be to deny the reality of the occasion and the message even though it got momentarily diverted. As Christians we have the responsibility to know the real from the counterfeit – the authentic from the bogus. Maturity allows us to assess without becoming unhealthily cynical. We never want to be remembered as the cynic who was defined as one who would ride through a sewer in a glass bottom boat. We are called to be realistic, keeping our minds centered on the truth of higher things.
This week think about: 1) How careful am I to avoid a cynical attitude? 2) What disciplines can I put in place this week to nurture a realistic perspective? 3) When does humor help me deal with human nature?
Words of Wisdom “Maturity allows us to assess without becoming unhealthily cynical.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 NET Bible)