As I’ve got older cynicism has become a friend. I didn’t ask it to be. It kind of just latched on to me. I know the dangers of this friend and have seen people ruined by it but even though I try and shake it off it seems glued to me. I heard recently someone was prayed for “that the spirit of cynicism would leave them” but the person prayed for just rolled their eyes when they told me. It seems some friends are for life.
Are you cynical?
If you have a “tendency” to put “inverted commas” “around” “everything” then you “just may be”.
If you believe that mankind has failed to achieve anything of interest or note since the moon landings were faked, then it is possible you are.
If your answer to the question, “are you one of those conspiracy theorists?” is “why, who are you working for?” then you might be cynical.
What I didn’t realise in this journey of cynicism is that Cynicism is a school of philosophy dating back to the time of Socrates. I don’t know much about him but he was intelligent so that makes me ….?!
The Cynics believed that only the bare necessities were needed to live. So what we needed to do was strip back and reject everything including possessions and property. One of the disciples of the founder of the Cynics (Antisthenes) was a man named Diogenes. He lived in a tub on the streets of Athens and was well known for his wit, which I guess he needed a lot of when living in a tub.
After about 800 years the Cynics finally disappeared but their traits were definitely seen in early Christianity and though cynicism in 2020 is not the same, we can train this awkward friend to work for us and not against us.
Let’s read some more verses from the Apostle, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (Philippians 1: 12-18)
Paul says this:
Some are using my situation to defend the gospel and some use this to preach with hidden agendas, but I am just happy that Christ is preached.
I see something here that is wonderful and helpful in making cynicism my helper and not an enemy.
As I have got older then the things I just accepted naively as being true takes longer to digest. That isn’t necessarily wrong. I am not an advocate for sitting in a tub and eating raw meat on the streets of Athens but I do believe we need to see the difference between what really matters and to do that we need to let go of those things that would just get in the way of our thinking. Cynicism pushes me to the truth, to what is important, past the crowds and the accolades to the absolute.
The Apostle got there. He sharpened his gaze and said, ‘what does it matter? Christ is preached, so let’s be happy.’
So today I will allow my friend to speak up and show me the indulgences, the selfish ambitions and the hidden agendas but I will control this friend and push forward into discovering the truth. My goal is to find Christ. If I do then cynic has helped me. If Christ is not there then cynic has still helped me.
Does it really matter? No is the answer to many things when the one thing is Christ and the gospel.
Oh one more thing, some of you may be thinking I am only writing like this because it is World Philosophy Day. But that would be cynical eh?