Cool Christianity

I recently read an article titled “Meet the Woke Young People Trying to Make Christianity Cool Again.” (I’m a bit confused by the “woke” in there, but whatever.) The article bemoaned the gap between public opinion and the opinions of evangelical Christians. To quote: “It doesn’t help that Christian communities can be out of step with the rest of the country when it comes to certain issues.” This assumes that being cool is a good thing.

Furthermore, the authors insist that Christians are the ones who need to change. In other words, we need to bring the ignorant, regressive Christians into line with the majority of Americans. In our efforts to be cool, we should embrace the world’s values. That would make Christianity “cool.”The article goes on to profile some young leaders, believers who are involved in ministries to the homeless, to immigrants, and who deal with other similar “hot topic” issues—which is wonderful. No complaint there. We should be helping people! But as I read, I kept going back to the original premises—that Christianity is supposed to be cool, and that we need to align ourselves with our culture’s values. They nagged at me. Is that what the Bible teaches?

First, let’s look at what the Bible says about those who follow Christ vs. the world’s wisdom:

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? … But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:20, 27-29)

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise.For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)

Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant. (said Paul, in Galatians 1:10)

It looks to me that Christians are more toward the “anti-cool” end of the spectrum! But what about Jesus? He went around doing all those miracles, He stood up to the Pharisees, and He drove the money lenders out of the temple. That sounds pretty impressive—surely He was considered cool!

Or not. I’ve always been challenged by this passage from Isaiah 53:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Or consider Jesus’ own words in John 15:18-20

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”

John sums it up nicely: “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13). Ouch. Clearly, we don’t become Christians to be cool. In fact, it’s a pretty sure bet that being a believer will eliminate any “coolness” you already had.

To be continued….

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