So, I’ve been reading this recently, a book which I thought I should read, seeing as how grappling with cynicism seems to be a hobby of mine. It’s a book that also brings a little light to dawn on explaining the title of this blog. I’m a cynical idealist, I think most cynics are. We wouldn’t be so cynical if we didn’t have ideals. The flip side of cynicism is, in part, rampant idealism, which gets crushed. If we weren’t idealists, why would we swing so widely into cynicism? Anyway. Here’s a good quote which sums it all up better than I could.
“The professional pessimist sees one half of the picture, the professional optimist the other. The former calls the latter superficial and is in turn pronounced defeatist. Each possesses a distorted fragment of the Christian truth. The Bible’s realism exceeds that of the worst cynic, for it knows what man has done to God. At the same time its hope surpasses the wildest Utopian fantasy, for it has concrete experience of what this same God will do for man.” (some brainy man)
The Bible gives us the full picture, in our complete complexity of character and understanding. Within that picture there is room to be suspicious, but there is also definite reason for hope. We live with the tension of these two things. We need to beware that our cynicism doesn’t constantly see through things until there is nothing to see anymore, and we need to beware the naivety of idealism with no suspicion to keep us alert. The Bible allows for the reality of our lives as complex humans in the hands of a Maker God. True wisdom, which the cynic and the idealist should seek, comes from Fearing God.
Relay 3 last week was all about that very thing (notice the joyous linkage going on in my thoughts). Proverbs is a book that teaches the reality of true wisdom. That real, practical, applied into living in this crazy world wisdom comes from God, and the way we live that out starts with the Fear of the Lord. A concept that understandably is a little slippery, but a concept that holds the key to how we live in this world (see Mo how I listen to your talks..apologies if I’m about to misinterpret them completely.)
The Fear of the Lord seems to be about living with God as God. With the Maker of the world as the best one to tell us how to live in this world He made. It seems a little simple, which is probably why we struggle with it. We want to be God, we want to live how We want to live. God comes along and tells us that true wisdom comes from Fearing Him, from relationship with Him, from living in His ways, Honouring Him, living in thanksgiving because He is God and we are not. God made the world and knows how it works, it therefore makes sense to live in it as designed.
What is a little more complicated is actually living that out. Walking in Fear of the Lord each day, living out the reality of the unseen, trusting in Him and guarding our hearts from the tugs and pulls of the other ways that seemingly offer wisdom at a fraction of the cost.
One final thought from the talks was the uselessness of self help books. They contain a wide variety of bonkers ideas but also they contain elements of truth, God’s wisdom is out there in His world. Self help books say stuff that works, that makes some sense of this world, that’s why they are so popular (that and our general tendency to self obsession).
The problem is they’ve taken the wisdom out of it’s context. Whilst the stuff they say might be generally true, and whilst someone could take a whole load of Proverbs and create a best seller, they miss the point. The point is, this stuff only works in relationship with the Maker, who gives the power to change, the desire to change, the relationship within which to be redeemed and the final hope of complete redemption. We need to come back to our Maker to learn how to live well and to live as we were made to. He has the key, and the secret and everything else. True life is found in Him and His ways. Fear the Lord, there’s a whole lot more exploring to be done…