Monday, September 8, 2008

The Cool Christian: Paradox Maybe?

I've been wondering about some things lately. One of the most reoccurring thoughts that plague me is how I am to relate to this current culture, namely, to the world. How important is relation to the world for the Christian? Should we strive to be relevant or seek to be as different as possible? It would seem that the latter would be the obvious choice but I don't believe this problem is quite so black and white as we wish.

Let's go through both scenarios, shall we? You have one Christian who's as cool as grandma's new hip. They dress like the celebrities, listen to the popular music, go to the places, and speak all the cool slang. This Christian is so relevant, in fact, that there is no difference between themselves and the world. They are so culturally in sync, that the opportunity to affect the world is completely shot. But then there is that weird Christian on the other side. They dress like bums which coincides parallel to their personalities that scream "get away from me you nasty heathen!" They are so committed to being culturally irrelevant that they too shoot down their opportunity to affect the world. So, where does this leave us?

I struggle with the first scenario constantly. I want to be relevant, to be culturally correct, to be counted as cool in the eyes of this world. This desire, however, cannot coexist with the command to be a light in this world of utter darkness. But how can I, how can we find the balance? I was snooping around on Myspace, yep... there are genuine Christians on Myspace, and I found this awesome response from Jon Foreman, the frontman of Switchfoot:

...our current western church (including myself from time to time) is far too interested in being cool, being trendy, being relevant.
Jon goes on to say that all we're trying to do is, "figure out what it means to be a believer in the here and now."
That's what I'm attempting to figure out as well. I think being a believer in the here and now means to love, not this world, but the people in it. Jesus didn't say, "Get away from Me you nasty heathen!". In fact, it was the seemingly righteous that He condemned! But, Jesus also didn't look like the world. He had the perfect balance of being relevant enough to still show His light and affect the world around Him. This is our calling as well. As Jon so eloquently puts it, "We're called to love each other and love never goes out of fashion."

We cannot become preoccupied with having an image of coolness, being culturally correct to the world. It was not what Christ strove for and it is not what He called us to. He rather called us to love our neighbors as ourselves, whether they are Christians or not. He has given us the task to let our lights shine before others, specifically the world, that they might glorify our Father in Heaven. It will never be cool to be a Christian, and in the end, it won't matter how cool we were. What matters will be how we illuminated the light of Christ, a light that cannot shine through complete similarity or utter indifference. The world does not need the Christian who is just like them, nor can they have any use in the Christian who cares nothing for them. Jesus is not our homeboy, and the world does not need that kind of Jesus anyway. They need the Savior who loves... and they need His disciples who will love them as well.


Penn Tomassetti said...

You put this balance in perspective very well. Great job writing on this subject! Loving the people in the world has more to do with showing them Christ than it does with being culturally hip.

Ashley said...

Thanks Penn, I'm just trying to figure a way out of this wanting to be cool thing you know? I think it's all about serving God and being "cool" in His eyes. In the end, His opinion is all that really matters.

Penn Tomassetti said...

I know what you mean Ashley. When I was in high school, all I did was in order to look "cool" in other people's eyes. After the Bible cut my heart, I realized that love is the key. You don't have to look good in other people's eyes if you are seeking to please God. Then you can truly show them the love of a crucified Christ.
God bless you.

Ashley said...

Right, its like I said earlier, the world doesn't need a Christian who acts just like them. It will accomplish us nothing. I think John 13:35 sums it up, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Thanks Penn for your encouraging comments. I truly appreciate them.