We all have that one friend. You know, the one with the mouth that seems permanently arranged in a smirk? The one who is fluent in two languages: English and sarcasm? The one with battery acid under his texting thumb? The one with with a godlike gift for drawing blood with well-honed words? Maybe you don't know him; maybe you are him.
Is there anything more tiresome, more discouraging than the perennial cynic? Why, then, is cynicism such a hot commodity in our cultural marketplaces? We write it into the mouths of our best TV and movie characters. We worship it on the avian altar of retweets and favorites. We wear out our touchscreens attempting to craft the funniest, most cutting reply to even the sincerest posts of our friends, hoping others will see our internet-cleverness and clap.
Well I'm here to tell you that your cynicism is boring me. And I hope mine is boring you.
Cynicism, it turns out, is too easy. If you're all black eyeliner, sarcastic rejoinders, and prophetic hot-takes of a world on fire, you are simply too simple. You are woefully one-dimensional. You're a Crayola box with a lone black crayon rattling around the bottom.
You are, in fact—and I really hate to be the bearer of this news—fraternal twins with your arch-nemesis: the kitschy grandma who only sees sunshine, rainbows, and kittens gamboling through fields of virginal wildflowers. You are first cousins of the saccharine-smiling 700 Club charlatans, office walls bedighted with cross-stitched, out of context Bible verses melted down and forged into motivational mantras.
They may have hot-glued Thomas Kinkade landscapes to the inside of their glasses, but you did the same with still frames cut from a Tarantino movie. They may ignore all the dark, but you ignore all the light. Reality isn't just black; there's white, too. For example, a white Rider, faithful and true. Bright white will win. And then where will the prophets of doom go? The emo-eyelinered-cynics? The permanent-scowlers? The sarcastic-retorters? The dearth-singers? The funeral-wailers? The Facebook-frowners?
Look, I've read Revelation 21. Have you? I've seen Johannine visions of the Reaper taken out to the shed with Old Yeller, foaming and raging. I heard the single shot that followed. I've climbed into that poetry portal and watched the dust bones of our beloved dead put on heartbeats like new coats and laugh the laugh of the everliving. I've seen grief and sorrowing sent like sad-faced exiles to their permanent Patmos outside the walls of the city. I've seen the Rider cut down the Corrupter, that ancient Liar, with the sword of his mouth.
The story of Scripture is one in which we see God’s good creation corrupted by sin, yes. There are blacker blacks in those pages than you'll find in any horror film. Lamentation gets a whole book. Tears curl the pages of the Psalter. Potsherds scrape the festering boils of righteous Job for the better part of 36 chapters. But it is also a story in which a better world breaks through the cracks in that sin-corrupted sidewalk. Life flickers up and roots down deep. The sin-created cracks fill up and overflow as life swallows up death. Victory shouts. Creatures sing. God smiles. When Jesus rose, he cracked this world through and heaven crept in.
So shall we remove the razorblades from under our tongues and learn to sing more often in the major-key? Shall we learn to celebrate in the midst of our sojourning? You and I—shall we repent of our point-scoring hopelessness and turn our gaze on our unfading hope, kept for us in a heaven that is hurtling earthward? Doubt your sarcasm with me; let's drown our treasured cynicism in the rivers that issue from under the throne.