It’s hard to believe in hope when all around you see is just a derision of it.
The statement above is just my own conjured up thought on being somewhat a cynic. Or is it the sentiment of many in this world we live in right now? I guess it is. But the irony of being a cynic is that I’m also Christian. Now that’s a tough nut to crack. Two opposing qualities that do not add up.
Inherently though, I’m a pessimist. One of the best at it as well. But I guess there are others who do it much better than me. There is in fact a philosopher of whom I forget his name, that, when I read about him, he was a master pessimist and a guru, I would add at being the best of cynics. Ok, thanks with the help of Google this philosopher’s name was Arthur Schopenhauer. You can look him up. After reading about him, I thought, “I’m not much of a cynic as him. I actually fared better.”
But it’s hard not to be a cynic with all what you see around. Sometimes I just can’t help it. It’s not only the thing one sees that contributes to this but what one experiences as well. To tell you some background about myself, my family was stable financially. But something happened that changed everything. My dad went bankrupt because of a good deal gone wrong. Everything went downhill from that point. I don’t blame my dad for this. I wish I had a better story to tell, of how we eventually gained back those lost money and how we live successful now but it never happened that way.
As time went by, things got from bad to worst. I also suffered the same fate as my dad, going bankrupt myself, even before I started to work. I was in my third year in bible school and just a few months before that suffered emotionally seeing a friend breathing his last on my lap as our van drove to the hospital.
My cynical disposition finally awoken at that moment with all these things happening. I questioned my faith and God as well. Nothing made sense. Had hope gone and hid it’s face?
But eventually my cynicism ceased for a period. But awoken again in my experience working in church. Branded a rebel because of the things I posted on my blog, I soon left that job after finishing my contract with them which was for just a year. I mean, I knew that ministry was not easy, but to taste this sort of rejection very early in my experience was something of a shock to me. Leader who I used to look up to were just like normal people you meet in what is called the secular world. I mean, not to discredit this label, but I think some non believers fared better than most Christians who we call leaders.
I also, in the space of two years suffered two break ups. I’m still going through the motions of depressing moments of the second one which happened just a few months back. I can’t help not being cynical after all this.
But what does my Christian disposition contribute to giving me some ground to help me stay sane thorough all this? I’m somewhat frustrated when all I hear from the pulpit is all about how Christianity gives new breath to life devoid of Jesus. That in Jesus all the questions of life are answered. I can’t help but cringe if all I hear are just happy messages coated with candy to make things sweet to the ears of people who live with a state of mind that borders on complacency. For the stark reality we see in the world points to a picture that is painted in dark vintage colors. I guess that’s how I would paint it.
But I think we can do better at offering a better picture of the gospel if we do wish to make cynics better grapple some understanding of the Christian faith. I’ve been musing on this during the course of a class I took. Something about contextualizing the gospel. It has with it a predisposition which takes into consideration the culture of a people and tries to communicate the gospel in the same key as how these people understand things.
If for example one tries to relay a Christian message to cynics or a cynical generation one should not paint the picture of hope first. Start with something on the theme of meaninglessness. If in the state of meaningless one can derive some form of hope then in a way some hope of recovering the mind of the cynic is possible. I’m not saying this will work but at least we are forming bridges of communication.
The crucifixion of Jesus comes to mind which is a good place to start. Jesus died a meaningless death if we really think about it. He was put to the cross by jealous and power hungry leaders. The story of an innocent man at the hands of corrupt authorities is a good place to start. Jesus was also disbanded by who we call as his close followers at the time when he needed them most. And at the cross Jesus cried out “Father, what have you forsaken me.” This to me is one that a cynic like me would welcome, rather than Jesus gives meaning to life. Not that I disbelieve this to be fact that is. There is still much in the bible that one can explore on themes told in the same key. Job comes to mind. The book of Ecclesiastes is another good book to study as well. I mean, I could go on with other illustrations but I hope I made some good points there. But in the midst of this state of meaninglessness, there is hope. For the story of Jesus did not stop with a dead revolution but in the end a revolution that was in the end vindicated.
I hope Christians should understand that cynical people like me, don’t work with a framework that sees hope as a viable point of reference to start with. For cynics see the world and the sound of hope like an untuned guitar. It’s not good music. To better communicate the gospel to cynics one simply has to start with their point of reference, how they view the world. I believe we can still bring a more convincing if now give some good point of views to the table if we start there.
Now, this has been a long post. But I hope I gave some sense for us to think about here.