Cynicism, Hope and Songs of the Millennials

sporadic cynicismTwo months ago Phil Strout gave a talk at the Pathway Vineyard Church in Maine about the spirit of cynicism that is so powerful in our culture today. It is really strong among the Millennial  Generation as we (and yes, I’m in that group – abet on the leading edge) have been betrayed by so many of our heroes and leaders – parents, teachers, political leaders, business leaders, pastors, priests, cultural icons, coaches, etc. This betrayal and lack of trust has led to a culture of cynicism where we are skeptical of the motivations of everyone around us… watch out for number one as no one else will…

For years I have felt that the song that best summed up my generation was  John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change” (and yes, I know that John is more Gen-X…but I think the song nailed us Y folks).  Some of the lyrics of the song reads (abridged with underlines added):

Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It’s not that we don’t care,
We just know that the fight ain’t fair
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Yet in the midst of all the pain, sorrow, heartache and doubt there is one voice calling us forward with hope. That is the voice of Jesus the King of Kings! As the author of Hebrews said long ago:

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20, underlines added)

We, as the body of Christ, are to have a solid foundation of trust and hope in Jesus that He is on the throne and deeply, personally cares for each one of us – so much so that He knows the numbers of hairs on our heads! (Luke 12:7) Cynicism, on the other hand, robs us on this hope and destroys our lives. To quote Phil (underlines added)

“Cynicism has its roots in destruction. Now, a little bit of caution, suspicion, or doubt can be very healthy for the human psyche. Sarcasm, doubt and negativity unchecked by hope, however, turns into cynicism, which robs people of life and faith. It robs the church of its purpose. If there is one institution that cannot stand to be a place of negativity and cynicism and sarcasm, it’s the church. It may be the last institution on the earth that’s not going to buy into ‘Life sucks, and then you die.’

“I want you to be informed, so that you will not have the same despair as those that have no hope, so that you will not live under the same battering waves of anxiety, distrust, disillusionment as do those people that have no hope.

“I want to wake up in the morning believing that it can be better than yesterday; that the next six months, year, or five years will be better and that they will count.”

We, the followers of Jesus, are to be a light burning bright in a dark world; a beacon of hope and faith and love amidst a sea of disillusionment, distrust, and cynicism. We are to be different; a “peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9 KJV).

To quote another song of my generation:

Now I know I’m not a saint, I been a sinner all my life
I ain’t tryin’ to hide my flaws, I’d rather keep them in the light
They wanna criticize, scrutinize, cast another stone
Burn me at the stake and sit and watch it from the throne

They say the devil is my pal, I do a lotta drugs
The crowd will only like me if they’re really fuckin’ drunk
They think they know my thoughts, but they don’t know the least
If they listened to the words they’d find the message that’s beneath

But it goes in one ear and right out the other
People talkin’ shit even though they never bother
It goes in one ear and right out the other
People talkin’ shit, they can kiss the back of my hand

“In One Ear” by Cage the Elephant (underlines added)