May 5, 2008

De Temps En Temps, Je Suis Un Cynique



Ok, most of the time when I write, I try VERY hard to speak very softly (and have even been told that in my writing I “apologize” too much). I do that on purpose because I never know who will be reading and what they might be going through at the time. Anyone that has heard me preach or hold someone in accountability knows that the way I write is much more “seasoned with salt” than my natural “prophet mode.” The difference is that in person, I have some background to know who the person (or audience) is, what they are going through, and what might be the best way to help them change, which should be our goal. When writing, I write to a “blank” audience and am thus not afforded the luxury of contextualizing. Thus, I have chosen the softest “speech” I can allow myself, without shrinking from the truths that I desire to share (and quite frankly don’t want to sound or be arrogant in the way I present things).

In the context of most of the things I write about, to preach the truth blindly, with no thought to contextualization, is to be personally offensive and do a disservice to the Gospel. That is to risk breaking the bruised reed or putting out the smoldering flax. When dealing with preaching the truth of the Gospel (for example), if someone vehemently denies the Deity of Christ, then sure oppose them outright; yet even there, -often- there is place to season your speech (speaking to someone one on one verses defending your flock for example). At the same time, anyone who understands the scriptures also knows there is indeed a time to oppose with vigor, standing with power on the truth of the Gospel… to set your face as a flint. A brief overview of the prophets will demonstrate this. Yet, a close inspection of their methods will show that this type of confrontation was a last resort. The simple truth is that if change is the goal, as it should be, people will usually respond better when you season your speech with salt and take a “come let us reason together” approach. You can become more and more strong and more and more bold as you see the need and opportunity. Anyway, the point is that my writing is primarily about people, relationships, and reflection. This context demands a softer approach. Some writers, such as Dr. Mohler, are writing to a “hostile” secular audience, primarily to defend the truths of the Scriptures, and thus they must write according to that context. Anyway, once again, what was supposed to be pretty much a one-liner has turned into much more ;). Thus, the following was the actual original intention.

Sometimes I am quite the cynic and my cynical nature is usually checked, yet, the more tired I am the less of a “check” I have. The "sanctificationometer" sorta goes haywire in proportion to the lack of sleep, which is certainly among the reasons that sleep is often the first method of Spiritual attack in my life. Anyway, I am admitting to you ahead of time that I am being cynical (and then off to get a nap and finish another paper).


I had to laugh today, in a sad sort of way. I find it so funny sometimes to listen to people talk to each other, especially when a young man and young woman have obviously just started meeting with each other and are in the process of trying to suck up to or sell themselves to the other person. Words are coming out of their mouths and at a superficial level, they honestly believe they are having a discussion about some arbitrary thing. Today’s example was that they both were trying to impress each other by admitting that “they” understand that men and women are so different and by proving that they, in fact, do understand how it’s so sad and that “other” people fall into catering to the ideals of romantic love and how they believe in Biblical love. The conversation ensued with lots of emphatic and drawn-out “yeah’s” and silly laughter in thankfulness that the most obvious “Christian soapbox” they could think to address wasn’t rejected as false by the other person, though they specifically chose that soapbox because they know it is so solid that any “good” Christian would have to agree. At the same time, the other person tries diligently to figure out a way to agree with whatever is said, no matter what qualifiers or “round-about” thinking is required, so that they are not perceived negatively by the other person. This is exceedingly comic, to quote Kierkegaard. They are both so insecure with themselves, so distrusting of the other person, and ultimately so unwilling to take a stand that their conversation amounts to nothing. Further, if they can’t accept you for who you are (in Christ, of course), then why are you interested? If you are not sure, how else do you intend to find out? I am of course presuming that an honest, Godly relationship is the goal.

Again, it is exceedingly comic because at a superficial level they honestly believe themselves to be discussing those things. Yet, the real conversation is below the surface and amounts to a tentative “hey I like you do you like me?... but I’m not yet willing to be vulnerable and show you who I am so I’ll stick to sucking up for the time being.” The example today was especially funny because in the process of doing this, and of superficially discussing their refusal to cater to romantic love, they were, in fact, catering to it by their actions. It is sad for many reasons. For one, because each and every time a person speaks in this way they are lying to themselves, to the other person, and to the Lord. Further, with each and every statement spoken or thought in this manner, they are slowly breaking down their integrity and conscience. Also, they are setting up a false picture for the other person and setting themselves up for failure. Now, lest you think me guilty of claiming to have never done this, I can remember doing this a time or two, but for the most part, I just don’t understand it. Yet, as always, I must question my own motives in even writing this. Am I just writing to try to impress someone unknown to me, to prove that “I’m not like them?” Am I having a superficial conversation with my readers speaking superficial words while below the surface trying to communicate some weak insecure plea? What possible motives could I have? Why do I write at all? I know I can’t trust myself or my own motives sometimes, yet, by my actions I must be trusting them to some degree. If you ask me why I write I can think of at least three reasons. I realize I’m leaving a paper trail, I desire to honor and glorify Christ with my life, and I want to live life before people so that I may be held in check and so that we may all be aided through discussion as iron sharpens iron; yet inherent in that is ample room for false motives and self-aggrandizement if my heart is not where it ought to be. I don’t honestly think this is the case, but neither did “they.”




Folks, regardless of my motives, we ought to live in transparency before God, with ourselves, and with others. There are times or situations where transparency cannot exist because Biblical principles or wisdom dictate that it is so, but aside from that, there is simply no excuse. As you well know, I could go on and on with this both in discussion and in quoting all sorts of scriptures, but I won’t. I’ll leave it right there and close with one of my favorite quotes.

“In our addresses, let our conduct be sincere, and tempers undisguised; let us use no artifices to cover or conceal our natural frailties and imperfections; but be outwardly, what we really are within, and appear such as we design steadfastly to continue”—Benjamin Franklin

4 comments:

Valerie said...

That was a good post! I have to admit that I have found myself guilty of being superficial in the beginning of a relationship before. For whatever reason, it seems like for some of us (actually, I should just be speaking for myself) that being superficial (in the beginning of a relationship) is my default setting. That doesn't make it right though. I liked how you pointed out that being superficial shows insecurities in ourselves and distrust in the other person. I am not sure I have ever thought of it that way before. Very thought provoking. I hated it when I have been superficial with others in the past, but I praise God that He is sanctifying me in that and (as far as I can see) He has conquered that in me. Again, I enjoyed reading your post!

Because of Christ,
Valerie

A-Hawk said...

Valerie,

Thank you so much for your comments, you have greatly encouraged me! I hate that I have had to leave my blog alone for the last month or two and, to be transparent, was very happy to see a comment, especially one where someone is being so honest! I obviously don’t know you, but by your comments here the Lord’s work is very evident. I rejoice with you in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!

Hidden in Him,
Aaron
Col. 2:6,7

Valerie said...

Thanks for replying back! Are you planning on writing more in the near future? I saw that you are in the middle of a series on singles, is that right? The posts that I read were very insightful. Take care and God bless.

Because of Christ,
Valerie

A-Hawk said...

Hi again, no problem, like I said, I was encouraged so definitely didn’t mind replying. Yes, I do hope to begin writing a little more again here soon, but I want to be careful promising with the way things have been here lately… totally insane (though in a good way). I actually have a notebook with I don’t know how many pages of notes written on all sorts of posts I wish to write and just haven’t been able to get to. As to the series, yes, I most definitely want to finish that and I hope to do so in the near future. There are a total of seven “parts” and as you may have seen, the second part (which is admittedly a large part of the series) was divided into three posts. Thanks again for your encouragement, it is appreciated :-)