Cynicism Is NOT A Spiritual Gift: A Confession

Hi. My name is Todd, and I am a cynic. (Hello, Todd)

It is hard for me to recollect when I had my first cynical thought. As God as my witness, I believe it started after my first semester of Bible College. Part of our college experience was to practice criticizing anyone and everyone who believed one jot or tittle differently that we did. After all, we were always right. We had the Bible.

After twenty-one years, I still find my inner cynic rearing his ugly head at least a dozen times a day. To be honest, since I started deconstructing in 2016, it has gotten even worse. 

To be fair, it is very, very hard to realize that everything you have ever believed, thought, and taught was inaccurate. It didn't help that I was asked to leave by the church where I pastored. Honestly, I think they waited a few months too long. My heart just wasn't in it. I wasn't even sure I believed in God anymore back then. Deconstructing has a way of unraveling the entire fabric of your belief system if you do it correctly. The good news is that when God begins to put you back together, it is truly a beautiful experience!

And yet, I still catch the cynical voices in my head doing what they do best...being jerks. For personal and political reasons, I moved away from traditional evangelical Christianity three years ago. Recently, I also made the decision to publicly renounce my SBC license and ordination credentials after years of seeing the Bible valued over people. Hey, I did it too. For over three decades.

During my first pastorate, a couple visited my church one Sunday. After service, they asked to speak with me in private. They wanted to get married and asked if I would consider officiating their ceremony. I was honored to be asked. Then I found out why they were asking. Their actual pastor refused to marry them because they were living together. I told them the same thing. Deflated, they left my office. I felt awful about it, but after all, God's word says to keep the marriage bed undefiled! 

A couple years later, I volunteered as a Chaplain in one of our local hospitals. I carried a pager for when I was needed. One night I received a page with a 911. A young couple's child had been stillborn. They wanted their baby to be baptized anyway. At once I remembered all of my Baptist teachings against infant baptism. 

I was on my way to tell this grieving couple that I couldn't perform this baptism for them. I stopped outside of their room and suddenly it hit me. This Mom and Dad just lost their child and this simple act would give them some closure. Who was I to deny them this?

While Dad held his daughter, ironically named Grace, I poured some water from a Dixie cup over her head and said a prayer. Both Mom and Dad hugged me and wouldn't let go when it was over. It meant so much to them. I actually cried with them. That night I went home and hugged and kissed my children and thanked God for each of them.

Over the years, I have recalled that experience when I feel I am being too much of a know-it-all-cynical-jerk. When the cynic voices begin to shout, I recall baby Grace, lifeless and beautiful, and I shut down the cynicism. God's Amazing Grace allows me to do that each and every time.

God's Grace says that it's okay to pour a little water on a dead baby so her parents can properly grieve the horrible loss. God's Grace says it's okay to be a fundamental, traditional, evangelical conservative. He really does love them too. God's Grace allows us to go ahead and perform that wedding ceremony or bake that cake to show that God's love is greater than God's law. 

God's Grace says that it's okay to be a cynic, but cautions us that cynicism is not listed among the spiritual gifts and needs to be managed carefully if we want to show the love of Jesus to a hurting world. 

Hi. My name is Todd, and I am a recovering cynic.

Bright blessings!
Todd

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