Letters to my son: Don’t be a cynic

Growing up in the church is hard. You see some pretty ugly things happen in it. Growing up in the church as a pastor’s kid is even worse. You get all kinds of expectations thrown on you. My parents never demanded perfection from me, but the stereotype of a pk did a fine job all on its own. It’s sad that this is what you have to look forward to. You will see ugliness in Christianity that others don’t often see. Before leaving home you will see all the reasons not to be a Christian. You will have better arguments against Christianity then even the most devout atheists.

You will fight the battle of a cynic. Growing up in the church runs the dangerous risk of being a cynic. I hate that is the case, but it unfortunately is so. You see the worst in Christians in the church. You will see men cheat each other out of money. You will see people overcome by greed. You will see people proclaim hatred on others in the name of Christ. You will see legalists that will turn your faith into rules to be obeyed rather than used to follow in honoring God. You will see people leave the faith. You will see devout become adulterers, thieves, murderers, gossipers, liars, and all other kinds of things.

This life will set you up to be a cynic. Anyone who stays in the church long enough will have an opportunity to turn into a cynic. You will learn people can be just as judgmental of someone with color of skin being an issue. You will learn that some will care more about the petty issues than they do about the gospel. I won’t lie to you or anyone else. If you grow up in the church then you are going to see reasons on why not to like the church.

How can Christians treat each other the way they do? How can the church be so ignorant to all that surrounds them? How can the church cause so much pain on others? The answer is simple, the things I have described to you are not the church. Not really anyway.

It’s true that you will see people amongst the church who are this way. Some are fakers. Some of them have lost track of the hope they once had in Christ. Some are misled. Some are simply so broken that they don’t know how to help their pain except for breaking others. Everyone in Christ’s church is broken.

We are the church of the former liars, cheaters, adulterers, drug addicts, porn addicts, gossipers, thieves, atheists, and all other kinds. We are messed up, but somehow goodness can still shine through in the midst of it all.

That is what I want you to focus on. People are going to sin. That is inevitable. The enemy wants you to focus on the flaws. It is why atheists resort to personal attacks and trying to lump on bad Christian together. They label as into hypocrites as a whole, but that is not the case. The church is also full of people who love and cherish life. It is full of people who come right besides those who are hurting and in need in order to help them. It is full of people who take their daily burdens to the cross every morning. It is full of hope and encouragement.

Don’t blame the church for the mistakes of those who are living in darkness. Don’t blame it on the fakers and the posers. Always remember that there have been times that we all have caused harm to someone else. Don’t give up on God and His church because of evil. That only gives evil exactly what it wants.

All evil can truly do is distract us for all that is good in this world, and in others. It does this because anything that is good is from God. Anything worth anything in this world is from God. The enemy does not want you to see that. It especially wants to keep you from seeing that in the church. Don’t let your faith be defined by me or anyone else. Mortal men are poor models to set up as a pillar of your faith. Be encouraged when God works through them, but always recognize that it is God at work, anything less is born out of giving into the enticement of temptation.

It’s odd that the greatest potential cynics are ones in the church. We see what is called to spread hope to this world stumble along the way. My challenge to any who struggle with this is to set aside the cynic, remember the good that God has done, and submit yourself to Him to do a little more good through His church. I can honestly say I’m not a cynic despite the ugly things I see. I have always been blessed to have an opportunity to see the good, and it is far better than any ugliness the enemy can present.