Beware of Cynicism!
Updated: Mar 22, 2022
Yesterday, the third Sunday in Lent, we heard a great deal about the need to repent--repent being turning back to the Lord, submitting again under His rule and reign. We heard from Jesus himself in Luke 13 warning that all are sinners and in need of repentance. St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (chapter 10) added to the warning saying "let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest we fall." Don't be the one thinking you have it all figured out and you are good enough to stand before God on that final day. Without Christ, you are not fine--you are not good.
Concluding the Scripture readings and my sermon you heard of the patient and steadfast love of our Lord as he tends the soil around the fruitless fig tree, nurturing it to health and life. This is the work of God, in Christ, in the flesh, to bring you from death to life, to bring forgiveness. The passion (work) of Jesus is the visible grace of God to action in the world. Bringing life to you, restoration and peace and forgiveness. Your security, freedom, peace and hope are found in him.
There is no need to wonder anymore about your place before God on that final day...or any day. When you confess your sins, God who is faithful and true will forgive your sins and cleanse you from ALL unrighteousness (1 John 1). You have only to look at that tree, on the hill outside Jerusalem, where the Son of God who knew no sin, became sin so that in him "we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21). The grace, patience, and love of God is displayed there for you.
In a world like ours where fear, despair, confusion, and rebellion run rampant it is difficult to find a sure foundation to stand. We search for shelter and find none. We search of something true only to find lies. We search and do not find, because we look away from Jesus, the cross and his word. When we look away from the cross many issues arise. One in particular that we often see is cynicism, a deep distrust or even hopelessness. Distrust in the sovereignty of God, and an unbelief in his gracious promises. A giving up so to speak.
What do we do then, when cynicism creeps in? We must do a few things to hold fast in Christ. Doing them together is even better. Gathering around the Word and Sacraments for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of our faith is excellent. There are also a few things you can do on your own. We must pray. We must meditate on the Word of God. And, we must remain (abide) in the Lord while we suffer.
We pray often--morning, noon and night. Giving thanks to God for his goodness, beseeching him for forgiveness, and asking for help, strength and wisdom in our time. We mediate on the Word, the perfect and true Word of God. Only God's Word can bring life, and truth, and help you know God and his ways. I don't mean your little devotional books, or facebook memes, but the actually words of the actual Bible that you can hold in your hands, read, mark and digest. Then finally, you must see suffering as a blessing from God, given to bring you ever closer to him.
It is that simple. Beware! Look to the cross. Walk with others.
May God bless and keep you this Lenten season.
Oh--and a fourth thing. Listen to this excellent episode of Issues, etc. about cynicism.