The Lord has been rooting into the dark crevices of my heart lately and using my wife and Paul Miller's A Praying Life to do it. Self-awareness is always a painful affair - I'm more content to be 'other-aware'. Which is why cynicism has been the perfectly insidious companion for me.
Masquerading as my humble opinion among equals, cynicism allows me to perch above reality, offering objective critiques of its pitiful participants. Cynicism is a knowledge that obscures reality. To see past everything is really to see nothing at all as C. S. Lewis would warn.
I set out to judge institutions (e.g. culture, christendom, church). But institutions means people. And people mean the God they serve. Asking what good can come from Christendom?, can't help but ask what good can come out of Nazareth?.
I used to think the opposite of cynicism was naivety. Now I know its intimacy. Miller remarks, cynicism is "too aware to trust or hope". My 'keen awareness' keeps me arms length from real people with real struggles (who are actually a lot more like me than I care to admit).
My last defense of my sin is that the church needs cynics; it needs people like me who are sharp, insightful, and willing to call her on her faults. A cynic feels like he's in the thick of body life, mourning, striving, thinking; he's really on the bleachers. He's calling plays at the TV from his armchair to teammates he's never gotten to know.
In reality the church needs prophets, pastors, and friends, never cynics. In short, she needs real people. She needs me to speak, and pray, and confess from the midst of my own failings and longings. And I need her.