I’ve written on cynicism a few times here at the blog. If you follow regularly, you know this is something I’ve admitted to struggling with myself. I consider myself a recovering cynic. I must repent of my cynicism daily to follow Jesus faithfully.
I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’m not alone in my cynicism. In fact, I’ve gotten more response through personal correspondence on this one issue than any others. It no doubt strikes a chord with folks today. And I’m not surprised.
I’ve found that cynicism is the elephant in the room that nobody really wants to talk about.
A few weeks ago I preached a sermon that is a compilation of stuff I’ve written, as well as new thoughts, on the subject of struggling with and overcoming cynicism. This one sermon was probably the most relevant message I gave all year. It connected with our congregation like no other.
In Overcoming Cynicism, I specifically take on the growing cynicism toward the church, the Body of Christ. It’s something we desperately need to address as we seek to emerge from the “evangelicalism” of the last 30 years.
Here are a few excerpts from the sermon:
“Cynicism manifests itself out of frustration with persons, institutions, organizations, and authorities that have left her victims disillusioned and angry. Cynics feel cheated, robbed, lied to, and taken advantage of. Maybe you know the feeling. Disillusionment has been described as the “dispersal of illusions,” and many Christians are finding themselves passing through disillusionment only to drown in a sea of cynicism.”
“Cynicism is a sickness… it leads to despair. We must repent of it… repent by believing that God is greater than the evil at work in the world, for he calls us to be people of hope. We repent of it because it’s not consistent with the people we’re called to be.”
“Let’s be clear. It’s not cynicism simply to acknowledge reality. It’s just that we can’t fully know what’s real without considering the God fully revealed in Jesus. Reality must conform to the good news of Christ. If we’re not doing that, then why bother with being a Christian. Hopeful realism is about resurrection and the promise of new creation. And this is what I believe we’re being called to embrace in the gospel message. It allows us to see the Spirit of God at work, and it empowers us to join him in shaping God’s good future.”
You can download the sermon and view slides (PDF) here at our archives. Listen to Overcoming Cynicism and learn about practical steps you can take on your way to becoming a hopeful realist this Advent season.
Grace & Peace,
D.D. Flowers, 2014.
2 Comments | tags: andy byers, angry at the church, angry christians, body of christ, bragging on the body of christ, cynic-saint, cynicism, cynicism sermon, depression, free from religion, god is not cynical, hopeful realism, legalism, negative headlines, negativity, overcoming cynicism, pharisees, playing the accusser, skepticism | posted in Christianity, Church, Culture, Deeper Christian Life, Sermons
Jonathan Merritt recently interviewed Tullian Tchividjian, pastor and author of the new book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World (David C. Cook, 2013).
Tullian is the grandson of Billy Graham. And he seems to have Graham’s gift of stating things very plainly. Listen to what he says.
Tullian claims that grace has been “tragically hijacked by an oppressive religious moralism” that leads to condemning others in and outside the church. For these terrorists, it’s about rules, rules, and more rules!
Sadly, too many churches have helped to perpetuate the impression that Christianity is primarily concerned with legislating morality. Believe it or not, Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good. Too many people have walked away from the church not because they’re walking away from Jesus, but because the church has walked away from Jesus.
That’s a hard pill to swallow for many evangelicals. And I’m glad to hear it coming from a reformed pastor. It needs to be said because it’s true.
I’ve seen it firsthand. I’m sure many of you have as well.
OK, maybe you don’t believe in legislating sin and supporting the Religious Right, but you may need to hear what Tullian says next. Have you traded your identity in Christ for performance based spirituality?
Ironically, I’ve discovered that the more I focus on my need to get better, the worse I actually get—I become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our performance over Christ’s performance for us actually hinders spiritual growth because it makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective—the exact opposite of how the Bible describes what it means to be sanctified. Sanctification is forgetting about yourself.
What is the remedy for this neurosis of the soul? It is nothing more than discovering our true identity in the Christ of grace, and replacing our narcissistic self-absorption with an undying concern for others.
Read the full interview: Billy Graham’s grandson takes Christians to task: An interview with Tullian Tchividjian
What do you think about Tullian’s words of challenge and rebuke? How have you been discovering your true identity in Christ?
D.D. Flowers, 2013.
6 Comments | tags: conservative evangelicals, grace, grandson of Billy Graham, jonathan merritt, legalism, legislating sin, reformed, religious moralism, religious right, the futility of behavior modification, tullian tchividjian | posted in Christianity, Church, Deeper Christian Life