Faith in God in a Cynical Age

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Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” is a question that has echoed through the corridors of time from the Garden of Eden to the present day. Although perhaps not verbalized, certainly that question was in Eve’s mind when the Serpent said, “Ye shall not surely die.” Today, where the world is made aware of events within mere seconds of the happening, we are bombarded with so much information, much of it conflicting, we are still asking, “What is truth?”

After over one-half century, the public still does not know whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in his assassination of President Kennedy, or if it was a part of a conspiracy. There are those who believe, and claim to have evidence to support, that the destruction of the twin towers in New York City was not an act of terrorism, but was rather planned and carried out by the United States government. After all, did not Nero burn Rome and blame the Christians? WHAT IS TRUTH?

As we become inundated with all this “information,” we begin to believe Mark Twain may have been right when he said, “Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are economical in its use.”

Cynical is defined as “(1) believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity; (2) concerned only with one’s own interests and typically disregarding accepted or appropriate standards in order to achieve them.” As we live in a world that is fitting more and more into this second definition, our tendency is to become those of the first definition.

It is not uncommon to meet folks who seemingly spend their time mulling over all kinds of imagined sinister motives behind every news item, especially those that have national or international significance. Recently I was in a place of business where the owner was holding forth about how the Federal Reserve Board is manipulating and controlling the economy with the intent to destroy the economy. I recalled doing business with this man several years ago, and he at that time told the same story he was reiterating now. He seems to be obsessed by this.

News reporters thrive on creating and feeding cynicism. Many news releases are just one more piece of the puzzle of how world events are shaping up to create a global tension that strikes fear in the hearts of mankind. We truly are living in a day when “men’s hearts [are] failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” Cynicism can quickly develop into paranoia.

How should we as Christians relate to all this? While we as honest people tend to take things at face value, we need to recognize that we live in a world dominated by people who to a large degree are controlled by the “father of lies.” News reports many times are distorted to promote the reporter’s agenda, and it is up to the reader to try to form his own conclusions, which of course will be influenced by his own preconceived ideas.

There is something in us that tends to be attracted to the negative. Newspapers are sold and thrive on negative news—murders, thefts, wars, etc. If there were a newspaper that published only the good deeds of folks, it would probably have a hard time staying financially solvent. As we absorb all this negative “news,” the tendency is to see everything in a negative light.

How can we avoid becoming cynical in the midst of a perverse world, a world where “evil men and seducers [are waxing] worse and worse”? It seems every day the news has a report of some evil that supersedes all previously reported evils.

Philippians 4:8-9, “… whatsoever things are true, … honest, … just, … pure, … lovely, … of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If we use the “innocent until proven guilty” thought process, it will help us avoid the tendency to believe and dwell on all kinds of conspiracy theories which will result in cynicism consuming us.

While we as Christians find ourselves living in a nation of this world that engages in subterfuge in its dealing with its own people and other nations of the world, we are a part of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, where the ruler is Truth personified. As the society around us crumbles to a shambles as a result of the rejection of truth, and duplicity in the world in which we live, we can rest in having as our leader the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

It would be easy for us as Christians, when we view the chaos around us, to become cynical, to lose all faith in mankind, including our brethren, and ultimately in God Himself. God is still on the throne (Rev 4). God is overruling in the affairs of mankind (Dan 4:17; John 19:11; Rom 13:1). The day is coming when “the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men … [will hide] themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and [say] to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:15-16).

“There shall be … distress of nations …; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: … when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:25-28).

Let us strive to “be blameless and harmless [honest], the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse [cynical] nation, [and to] shine as lights in the world; [by] holding forth the word of life.”

~ Greencastle, PA
March 2015