Confessions of a cynical Christian

Laurie Bullock considers what it means to be a cynical Christian.

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| Illustration by Jessica Byrd/THE CHIMES

Laurie Bullock, Writer

Laurie Bullock considers what it means to be a cynical Christian. | Illustration by Jessica Byrd/THE CHIMES

 

I have been heavily involved in Christian culture since I was small. I grew up in a Christian home and attended Christian schools all my life. Although I am thankful for these experiences, I realize that it has given me a sense of entitlement. I have come away from the Christian culture a cynic.

Webster’s Dictionary gives two definitions for the word cynical, “Contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives” and “A person who has negative opinions about other people and about the the things people do.”

Just like pride, cynicism has a way of sneaking up on you. It exists as something that you do not want in your heart and a subject people do not want to talk about. To say I have negative opinions about others and the things they do is not something that I ever want to bring up in normal conversation, but right now I think it is necessary. I have to remind myself that rolling my eyes at a “Sunday School” answer my classmates give is not a sign of wisdom but a sign of a flawed character trait that holds true spiritual growth back.

Unfortunately my cynicism does not end in the classroom, but extends into the way I see the church. I make snide remarks about the church I grew up in back home as if my bitterness gives me some medal of honor. I think I try to look for an excuse to keep my bitterness, to stay where I am and to justify my anger.

BALANCING CULTURE AND THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE

Today’s culture accepts bitterness or cynicism as long as you can make a joke. Really, joking hides the seriousness of the situation. We can see this in many of the sitcoms and movies we watch. I can get away with staying in the same state of distrust and negativity towards Christian culture as long as I can twist my attitude in a comical way.

I do not think I am alone in this, especially at Biola where many people come from similar backgrounds. Becoming a cynical Christian starts with familiarity. It starts with the thought, “I have heard this story before.” Then we tune out when we hear another lesson about money, idolatry or relationships as if the speaker could not possibly have anything new to to bring to us.

There is nothing wrong with seeking to know more about God. That is why most of us chose Biola, right? We are in the process of learning to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. Biola provides an excellent source for learning more about God and continuing the pursuit of this knowledge when we graduate. God wants us to focus on all three of these things. I have been guilty of focusing only on the heart and soul. But now I have swung the pendulum another way and focused on gaining as much knowledge as I can.

Knowledge must be balanced by love. I believe that God can heal me of my cynicism and the first step involves acknowledging that it is a problem and then asking forgiveness from those who have been hurt from my cynicism. Balancing the of pursuit of knowledge without neglecting love for the people around you proves difficult, but worthwhile and needed for those of us who were raised in the church.

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