Today in class we discussed how Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers so that they are unable to see the truth of the Gospel. This reminded me of the book we are reading in Bible study, called A Praying Life, by Paul Miller, in which he talks about the dangers of cynicism and the ways in which it prevents people from seeing God’s message of hope in redemption.
Cynicism breeds hopelessness which makes it very attractive to Satan who thrives on steering people away from God. Without hope nothing is held sacred, and there is nothing Godly to which one need aspire. It’s not difficult to see Satan’s work in this capacity all around us. Cynicism these days is the secular yardstick by which intelligence and one’s grasp of reality are measured – the more cynical one is, the more “realistic” they are. Sadly, cynicism, like all sin, separates people from one another and from God, blots out hopefulness, and darkens hearts. Given the current state of affairs in this world, the unbeliever's draw to cynicism is not difficult to understand – no doubt its pervasiveness is powerfully felt by all.
Cynicism is but one effective tool which Satan uses to keep the blind from seeing, but an important one because of how deeply entrenched it becomes in one’s worldview. Cynicism proclaims that people are not what they seem, and that IF there is a God, He is too good to be true anyway – that He must have ulterior motives. Because of their unbelief, the lost are left so blinded to the hope of the gospel message of Jesus that many are floundering, detached from purpose, and unable to see a way out of the darkness.
For unbelievers, a cynical heart is a death sentence, and a sure recipe for a seemingly random and miserable life on earth in which self-fulfilling prophecies reign. Further, as we’ve learned from the book Hurt People Hurt People, those who incur hurts from the world, in turn, inflict hurt on others, and the cycle of hurt and cynicism perpetuates. For believers, a cynical nature runs counter to what we are taught about the hope we are given in salvation, grace, and mercy. Stumbling and hardship are essential parts of the sanctification process. Understanding this gives Christians the comfort of knowing that they are being slowly modified and shaped rather than victimized and brutalized by a cruel, unfair world. In fact, it is in stumbling that we grow ever more hopeful of becoming more like Christ as we rise up, brush ourselves off and try again, ideally carrying with us the intended lesson. And when we have been sinned against, we trust that Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient to cover that sin, and that God's final judgment will make all wrongs right.
In counseling, it’s important to understand how cynicism separates people from God and especially how it blinds unbelievers to God’s truth. The effects of cynicism on a person’s quality of life cannot be understated. Cynicism leads to mistrust and suspicion of the world and of others. Because of this mistrust, people tend to shut down and draw into themselves for self-preservation. This separation and disconnection from others can lead to depression. Mistrust can lead to anxiety, etc. Discussing the effects of cynicism with clients can go a long way toward making them more self-aware of their negative attitudes and expectations, but without Christ as an anchor it will be difficult for unbelievers to grasp the need for change. This is truly the crux of the matter, and the point at which we must rely on the Holy Spirit to open the eyes and hearts of the world to the hope found only in truth.