Many people set out to write Bible studies with a specific purpose in mind. They have a life lesson that they spend a lot of time studying through and want to share it with others. Others think they have some new knowledge that they are about to share with the world – many trying to convince others to see the world as they see it. I apparently am not as bright or as opinionated as some. When I wrote Jaded it really was not a result of any premeditated purpose of trying to convince people that I was right, or that I had the answers, but, rather, it was a culmination of a journey that God had brought me through. I think what it has become is helpful because being Jaded is something many of us on this planet struggle with, but very few ever escape from.
A strange thing happened to me as I entered adulthood. Beyond finally getting past acne, social awkwardness and those weird glasses, I had my first major disappointments. My life up until that point had been, for the most part, an uninterrupted success. Life just worked out for me. Then I hit a series of roadblocks.
You see I had a bunch of really big plans for my life. I was going to be the next great spiritual leader in history. I thought I would be famous and be the next big thing. I came to the realization that, in reality, I was pretty ordinary. All of a sudden the place where I thought I should be and where I actually found myself collided violently.
I also found myself facing an environment where the reality of the church around me clashed violently with my preconceptions of what it should be like. I had been raised in church, but I had never seen the dark side of what the church could be. After being in seminary and then in vocational ministry for several years I found myself disillusioned. There were wonderful people working alongside me in my church, but there was a pervasive darkness of bottom-line thinking and profitability that had crept into the place where I was serving. As a result, my heart became Jaded as a means to survive in my faith.
As I grew cynical toward my co-workers and other people that I related to, I began to believe some lies. I began to believe that being cynical just worked for me and that it was the way of the world. I deluded myself into thinking that part of being an adult and being wise was to be Jaded. I know that sounds ridiculous, but when you get wounded you start thinking some crazy things.
Thinking back over that time I shudder to think that I may have stayed in that state of cynicism until my heart hardened into a bitterness that may have been unrecoverable. I was in a danger zone that I was unaware of but which could have led to my leaving the ministry entirely, and perhaps even shelving my walk with God. Instead, Jesus intervened mercifully.
I remember reading Ezekiel 36:23-28 at Starbucks one spring morning and hearing God speak clearly to me. In that passage God speaks through Ezekiel to His people and tells them that He is going to wash them and remove their idols and give them a new heart. Their old heart of stone would be replaced by a heart of flesh. He also tells them that He will bring them to their own land – a new place where they can worship Him, and where the nations will know that He is God through them. I felt in that moment that God was saying to me, “I don’t want you to stay like this. Life is so much better than this. I am going to restore you and cleanse your heart and move you to a new place where you will have hope and life again.”
From that moment God began to take me down a journey that changed my heart from cynicism and jaded-ness to a new place in ministry and in life. It took two years, but looking back on that time I can seen God’s faithfulness and healing in my life.
As I started looking around beyond my own pains and hurts, I began to hear stories of great pain and sorrow. And it wasn’t just coming from my friends and family. It was coming from people I could overhear while they worked at Starbucks. It was coming from acquaintances that I would speak to after church or at parties. People all around me had become extremely jaded – bitter because life had let them down.
That’s when I realized it wasn’t just me in this thing. I wasn’t the only one who felt that cynicism was something useful and a way of coping with life. It was less about me and more about us. There are so many of us who have seen our dreams go up in smoke and now are left skeptical that there is a worthwhile future out there for us. We have become distrustful of people’s motives, of relationships, of the church and of God. We have been hurt by friends and family, by church leaders and bosses. We carry these wounds and allow them to define us and keep us from living the life He wants us to lead.
After seeing what God has done for me and how I have found hope again, I knew I needed to write something that would encourage others to put aside cynicism and despair in order to find a future. There were several sermons that I wrote during those two years of healing which I collected into a study in order to develop Jaded. The book is a look at humanity and our sufferings in light of God’s patience with us as we continue to wound Him with our sin. He still continues to engage us with love and hope even then. It is amazing to see how God refuses to be Jaded toward us but instead chooses to love us.
I really hope you will check out the study and interact with it. I believe that it will make a difference in your life and bring hope to the places you have become cynical. Perhaps you have a friend who is waiting to hear a message like this one and you can study along with him/her, walking alongside one another & supporting each other through this process.
Today, I live in a place of hope. God has moved me to believe the best about the kingdom and I hope that you will join me if you are Jaded. Looking around me I see friends and loved ones who need people who think the best of others and who will continue to love them even when they disappoint. It is by carrying this infectious seed of hope that we can bring the light of Christ to a dark world that needs Him so desperately. Come join us as we turn a world of despair into a world of light and hope.