I admit it. From time to time I want to be viewed as “cool.”
Its the desire to be “with it.” A longing for cultural acceptance. A sense that others think of me as relevant and culturally savvy.
In short, it’s wanting to be hip.
Now, I don’t think there are any special points awarded for going out of our way to be socially awkward or culturally inept.
The struggle I have within myself is when I’m so in tune with my desired hipness, I automatically tend to look down on others. In some cases, my feelings of coolness cause me to judge or avoid people who I see as NOT cool.
When I was younger, this often showed up in ageism.
Simply put, it was cool to be young and energetic. Hence, to be older meant that it was time to turn your “cool card.”
Oh, how much better and hipper I was than any out-of-touch senior citizen!
My pride and my contempt for the aged was palpable.
(Thankfully, God helped me grow immensely in my attitudes toward the aged by having me work for four years at a restaurant right next Southern California’s largest retirement community.)
For me, a preoccupation with all things cool reeks of pride. And smells of elitism.
Which are two attitudes completely antithetical to Christianity.
The call of the Christian is to humility and inclusiveness.
When I focus on my desire for coolness (of which I possess very little!), I automatically am setting my heart in a wrong relational direction.
I could list hundreds of verses that clearly show that the call of the Christ-follower is to humility of heart and lowliness of Spirit. These concepts are not found in just a few, random places of scripture, but are in fact an overarching theme of the Bible.
Bottom line, I believe a desire to be cool is not from God, but has its roots firmly planted in the shifting sands of this planet.
And, it seems such struggles to be cool and matter more to men than to God are nothing new.
Thus, the apostle John was moved to write these words some 2000 tears ago:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. Whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NIV)
The world tells us to be cool we must dress right, like the right things, have the right haircut, buy the right brands, and associate with the right people.
I wonder: how much does a preoccupation with all of the above cripple my ability to truly serve?
To be cool means we focus a lot of thought and energy on ourselves.
Which really is bad for the business of doing ministry.
Paul wrote these applicable words that I believe cut at the core of the Christian who chases after cool:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Phillipians 2:3-4 NIV)
If I’m at all concerned about being cool, it reveals a lack of understanding about my identity and security in Jesus.
Not only that, it will put limits on how I love and serve others.
Coolness will keep me from loving the aged, the maligned and the unlovely. It will keep me at arms length from the outcast and the person society views as useless.
Coolness and Christianity have little in common. The former is about preoccupation and exaltation of self. The latter thinks only killing the flesh and glorifying God.
My post is not a call to pursue weirdness. Being socially inept can be a threat to demonstrating the gospel as well.
No, it’s simply a call to not take ourselves so seriously, and instead get more serious about God and others.
“Whoever will labor to get rid of self, to deny himself according to the instructions of Christ, strikes at once at the root of every evil, and finds the germ of every good.”