Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God … -- 2 Corinthians 3:5
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Happy Christian Cynics Day
I was checking the news this morning just to see what was going on in the wide, wide world. Looking at the uproar over a rodeo clown in an Obama mask in contrast to the betrayal of Americans in Benghazi or the trashing of the Fourth Amendment by the NSA, one can easily become cynical. Good Christians, I have been told, should not be cynical. I ain’t that good. Hence, today, which, by a strange coincidence, happens to be the birthday of someone who stabbed me severely in the back and had to be forgiven, I hereby initiate the Semi-Eternal Somewhat Cheerful Order of Christian Cynics of Greater Foose. Our coat of arms consists of eyes rolling over a burning Chevy Volt bearing the UAW label in a field of windmills with a decapitated bald eagle. Our motto: You can never expect too much from God or too little from men. Since we are Christian cynics, we must humbly acknowledge that we fall solidly into the latter class, which separates us from the pagan cynic, and, of course, hipsters.
Sometimes we really can’t get there from here, and we have to go someplace else and start over. Starting from ourselves, if our path is not toward God, we find ourselves inevitably at a dead end. The sense that we cannot do what God seems to require of us is a valid assessment of our human limitations and not a reason to either question God’s standards or to despair. As we say in software, it functions as designed, that is, to draw us toward the Source, the One who is able to make us sufficient for whatever challenge we face.
I am often surprised at the calmness and peacefulness exhibited by many in the midst of great turmoil and tragedy. There are the stories of panic and mindless, animal-like stampedes when the herd instinct overwhelms and sweeps individuals into the maelstrom. Those stories are the more remarkable for how often they do not happen. People we might never expect to be open to God find themselves in the role of a Samaritan who is not so bad. People that we think should be broken by the unbearable instead bear up, finding strength and resilience they never knew existed. When our backs are to the wall, we find that it was a secret door all along which opens when we are pressed to release the grace of God into our situation.
Further along in this same letter, the Apostle relates his personal struggle and how he prayed for deliverance from what he thought he could not endure: But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.