I’ve been in full-time ministry for the past 12 years and I’m sad to say that I am often guilty of being a cynic. Unfortunately it is a disease that is rampant in the church and outside as well. I think a good deal of our skepticism comes from poor experiences that we have had with people and church ministry. I see so many young adults who grew up in the legalism of the Christian church and refuse to go back or maybe they experienced the “crazy charismatic’s” that I did. I have many friends who have served as pastors and leaders in the church who have seen to many of the politics of church government and have walked away from the entity of the local church.
It is sad but true how much our experiences define our perspectives.
I was sitting in one of the great churches that we were visiting last week, Kingsfield. Pastor Chris Norman was sharing an incredible message on the mission of Kingsfield and really our mission as Christians. His teaching started in Mark 16:15 where Jesus gave the “Great Commission” to his disciples. As I followed along, my eye went to a few of the previous scriptures. In this chapter Jesus had just appeared for the first time to His disciples and His first response to them (before leaving them and us with the Great Commission) was this:
“…and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”
This small part of the scripture caught my attention. I realized that these were the men who walked, talked, slept, ate and lived with Jesus during the time of His ministry. They were the closest to him, yet they were skeptical cynic’s as well.
I read even further back in the chapter and saw the account of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and the account in Mark say’s “from whom he had cast out seven demons.” Did the disciples doubt Mary’s story because of “who” she was, or maybe because she was a woman? Were they filled with unbelief because they felt that if Jesus raised from the dead and appeared to anyone, it should be them?
I am so guilty of judging others “encounters with Jesus” especially when they seem odd or when it is nothing like I have ever experienced. I’m guilty of hearing about other churches or ministry’s and wondering is that really “the real deal?”
Truthfully, does any of that matter? Do our own thoughts or judgements based on our own perceptions and past experiences really mean anything? Jesus rebuked the disciples, his friends, those closest to him for their unbelief and hardness of heart. I most certainly do not want to sit in that seat.
Maybe it’s time to put our cynicism to rest and focus on the gospel, the Great Commision. To go into all the world and proclaim the gospel. I believe that this is the responsibility of a Christian and that it flows through the power of the local church. Christ came to establish the church…and thus He must want to use the church to do great things through every day people like you and me.
Every church and every ministry may have a different approach or style but I truly believe God likes the “flavors!” And behind every church or ministry is the human nature of all of us and we all have a tendency to mess things up. I’m so grateful that God chooses to use us anyway.
Have you been guilty of being a cynic? I’d love to hear your perspective and thoughts (in a healthy, life-giving way!) 🙂