Cynical Christianity

If I had to choose one word to describe my default way of thinking, I would choose “cynical.”

Yikes.

I hate cynicism. I really do. I hate the way it feels, you know? It’s that slimy, gross feeling. If you’ve taken your dog for a walk and you forgot to bring a doggie bag, but your dog needed to go and you didn’t want to be that neighbor, then you know exactly what cynicism feels like.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and the pastor being interviewed said he was confronted by a mentor of his about this very thing. His mentor asked, “Why do you keep smearing crap on your blessings?”

My point is cynicism is disgusting.

But I also love it.

And I hate that.

I love being cynical. And I disguise my cynicism all the time. “Oh, I’m just pointing out what could be better.” “Man, I loved that movie…except the editing was weird sometimes.” “Well, that’s just how life is.” “You can’t be disappointed if you don’t have expectations.”

It’s just so easy to be a critic. We breathe cynicism. We carry around unlimited cynicism in our pockets. We pay $40 a month to have constant access to it. We drink it up. We share it. We pass it around. Cynicism is more common than the common cold.

But, as a follower of Jesus, I’ve never encountered a command from Jesus to be cynical.

Maybe I’m missing something. Or maybe I’m obeying someone besides Jesus. Maybe I’m believing some lies about deserving a perfect, comfortable, happy life. Maybe I need to repent.

I most certainly need to repent.

Sometimes, though, we don’t know what to turn to when we turn away from sin. I know I need to turn away from the sin of cynicism, of tearing down, of being selfishly critical. But what do I turn to instead? I think one of many answers can be found in Colossians 3.

And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:15-17

This passage is so rich. And I think there’s a significant emphasis of which I want to take note.

It’s the trifecta of commands to be thankful.

Instead of being cynical, I believe we’re commanded to be thankful.

Paul starts with the peace of Christ ruling your heart, bringing you into communion with fellow believers. And then, “Be thankful.” Be thankful for Christ ruling your heart! You don’t deserve that. But Christ rules your heart because he wants to, because he deserves to. Because that’s better for you. So you have peace with others because Jesus rules your heart. That’s amazing. That’s something to be thankful for. If you don’t know what to give thanks for, give thanks for Jesus ruling your heart. Give thanks for peace. Give thanks for friendships.

Paul moves on with a command to let the word of Christ live in you, and let the word and wisdom of Christ move you to encourage others and, get this, give thanks to God. If you know the words of Jesus, you will be able to share those with others. To know the words of Jesus is a gift. To be able to hear them and understand them is another. To be able to know, hear, understand, and share them is a third. To be able to do all those things and sing praises to God is a fourth gift–and a most remarkable one at that. We don’t deserve any of those gifts. Yet we have been given them and more. Thanks be to God!

Finally, Paul lands the plane. He says whatever you do, whenever, wherever, with whoever, do it for Jesus; and while you’re doing whatever you’re doing and doing that thing for Jesus, give thanks! Thank God for the morning coffee. Give thanks for that song on the radio. Give thanks for your boss. Give thanks for that paper that’s due. Give thanks for any ability you have, any skill you possess, any holy thought you have, any desire to do good, and any joy you might feel. Yes, this will take you all day.

I had another friend tell me he recently that he was looking at a list of people he was praying for, and while praying and thinking through that list, he thought, There are so many needs. So many people need prayer. And these are just the people on my list! There are so many more people and needs and prayers to pray. This will take me all day!

Then it hit him. When Paul says pray all day, it’s not a suggestion. When you realize how much you have to pray, you end up praying all day. The same thing goes for gratitude. When you realize how much you have for which to give thanks, you end up giving thanks all day.

Now, this isn’t something I’m a pro at by any means. In fact, you might be way ahead of me in this spiritual practice of thanking God throughout the day. I hope if you are, then you start to teach others; and if you’re a day behind, that’s OK. Read Colossians 3 and focus on verses 15-17. Memorize them if that helps. Pray for the Spirit of God to give you a spirit of obedience. Then practice. Practice right now, practice tomorrow, practice the next day after. And when you succeed, thank God. And when you fail, thank God. His mercies are new every morning.

– Matt Welborn

 

100% Him, 0% Me

The beauty of the gospel message is that I’ve been accepted by God because of Christ. It is not contingent upon anything that I can do. This may seem like such a basic truth but let it sink in. God accepted me because of the life and death of His Son. I didn’t do anything and will never do anything that makes me worthy of saving. Ever. All I do is have faith that Christ has already done all the work for my salvation.

Here at Wellspring Church, I’ve been leading the Young Adult group through the book of Galatians, and this has been immensely impactful in my own heart and walk with the Lord. Last week we looked at just the first passage in Galatians and how the gospel is vibrantly on display in what is a simple greeting portion of Paul’s letter.

Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead – and all the brothers and sisters with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. – Galatians 1:1-5

The gospel is infused into this greeting and it’s worthy of our attention. In just a short side-note before we look at it, I find it incredibly encouraging that the gospel is not just for those who are beginning in faith or have just recently come to know the Lord. The gospel is for every day of our lives as followers of Christ. All of the New Testament letters have the message of the gospel explicitly on display, and that should remind us that we should be preaching the gospel to ourselves every single day because these letters were written to churches, written to followers of Christ.

The gospel is at work in what Tim Keller describes as kind of a four point outline here in this passage.

Who We Are. While there is nothing explicitly said about mankind here in regards to the gospel, the word ‘rescue’ in verse four tells us all that we need to know. As sinful man, we were in need of a great rescue. We were in need of the Lord to come and rescue us from sin and the consequences of that sin which is death. We were helpless and lost. We didn’t need a moral teacher or a powerful leader, we needed God incarnate. We need rescuing.

What Jesus Did. Jesus gave Himself for our sins (v. 4). Jesus didn’t purchase with his death a second chance for us or a fresh start or a clean slate. No, what He did was far more than that. Jesus purchased us our freedom. He did ALL we cannot do but needed to do. We thus cannot fall back into condemnation. We are completely free.

What The Father Did. God the Father accepted the work of Christ by raising Christ from the dead (v. 1). God the Father also via the work of the gospel grants us grace and peace (v. 3). Even as a follower of Christ my two biggest struggles are wrapped up in guilt and shame. Yet the very nature of the gospel destroys those two realities. Grace covers over all of our guilt and in place of shame comes the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

Why He Did It. Here’s the big part. God did all of this simply because it was His will to do so. It has nothing at all to do with me. This passage says nothing about mankind being deserving in even the slightest bit. No, this passage makes clear that the gospel was simply God’s plan. It’s all because of grace. That’s the motivation behind what God did. It was all about His grace. glory

That is why verse five is so powerful. The gospel is 100% about what God did and 0% about anything I have or ever will do. It is because of this that God gets all the glory forever and ever amen.

This is the message of the gospel. Walk every day in the grace of Christ and preach yourself this truth each morning.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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