Someone has to make it seem cool

I’m finishing up this book right now called “Here’s to Hindsight” by Tara Leigh Cobble. She’s actually an amazing artist who performed at Gravity and has a couple books. It’s basically a spiritual memoir. In the chapter called “Leaking Light” Tara talks about the concept of being cool and being Christian, something I struggled with in high & middle school.

I always tried to make myself seem cool. I dabbled with swearing and talking outside of my faith because I thought I was doing Jesus a favor. I mean, somebody’s got to make Christianity look cool enough to join. Cobble talks about the book of Mark where Jesus meets the rich, young ruler. Jesus is infrequently seen in the Bible communicating with really powerful, important people. Here, the rich young ruler comes to Jesus and asked him what he’s got to do to follow him.

What’s interesting about this encounter is that Jesus doesn’t try to recruit the popular, rich kid by telling him that joining him will make his life way better and increase his wealth. He doesn’t try to sugarcoat the message. He tells him what he has to do. He has to sell his stuff, give away his money, reverse his identity, and follow Jesus. He presents the gospel as is, not the everyone-friendly Joel Olsteen message which tells you that your life will get better, you will make more money and you will be really happy (while this may happen as a result of a relationship with Jesus, that’s not all there is to it)

We can do a lot of things to try to attract people to Jesus and the gospel. We can have flashy powerpoint presentations, free pizza or coffee, or have really cool, attractive people attend our church. The truth is, when we do things like that purposely to attract people, we’re saying that Jesus isn’t enough.
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John 12:32 (Jesus speaking) “If I am lifted up from the Earth, I will draw all men to myself”

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8 responses to “Someone has to make it seem cool

  1. I’m pretty sure Jesus and Paul both swear in the Bible. Although, in our modern translations, these harsh words don’t quite come through.

  2. Jesus did it in Luke 3:7, I believe. Remember when he calls some Pharisees a “brood of vipers.” Obviously that doesn’t mean anything in modern English, but back then it was roughly the equivalent of “bastards.”

    For Paul, I’m pretty sure it’s in Philippians 3:8. He says, “I count all loss.” Again, lost in translation, but the word he uses is had the social stigma similar to the word “shit.”

    Of course, the offensiveness of words is subjective anyway. Prohibition of swear words is not something that you can find in the Bible. If you study the etymology of English’s profanity, you’ll find that they used to be common words back in the day. They only became bad as a result of social stigma and elitism.

  3. While I agree with Davo that thats what those words meant I don’t think that gives us free reign to use those words as the bible also says let not filthy words come from your mouth… while then those words weren’t really considered filthy they are now so we shouldn’t use them…

    As to the post… I agree we really don’t need to make Christianity spectacular because it really is on it’s own and Jesus can do the work by himself… BUT I do think there’s a part we play… we should be living as Christians are supposed to be living where our lifestyle won’t be a turn off to people… like people look at Christians who are struggling financially and they aren’t and they ask why would I want to be Christian?

  4. I would agree that we don’t need to try to make Christianity seem spectacular. I mean, within the very action of “trying to make it seem cool,” the one is essentially admitting that it’s not cool. Perhaps this only demonstrates one’s own insecurity in what one believes.

    Your argument about Christians struggling financially perplexes me, though. I don’t see any examples in the New Testament of people being encouraged to “have it together” and “look good.” Jesus’ appeal starkly contrasts the Osteenian version, which (according to the author of this post) essentially equates happiness to money.

    The Christians who have made Christianity most appealing to me are all struggling financially. It’s not because they’re irresponsible, but because they practice “Kingdom economics.” The Bible talks more about money than almost any other topic, but it’s all in the context of providing for widows and orphans, not enriching one’s own life.

    No, the Christians who make me doubt my faith are those who are financially secure living in nice homes with nice TVs and nice cars and attend a nice church on the nice side of town with a pretty sanctuary and a beautiful stain-glass window but have never talked to a homeless person to find out how their day was or eaten a meal at the local soup kitchen just to make friends.

    If a religion is about “looking cool,” then in my opinion, the religion is about being inauthentic. And deep down, nobody finds that attractive.

    So all of that tyrannic rant to say… Good post Angela.

  5. I half agree with you… I just have to ask though… how are we supposed to help the poor and widows without money? And God is a God of both the Old and New Testament… There are plenty scriptures in the bible about financial prosperity and being rich… There’s a reason the bible talks about money more than any other thing 🙂

  6. An examination of Levitical law from a fiscal perspective reveals that God deeply cares for the poor and marginalized. Through the functions of the temple, the 10 Commandments, even the economics of land ownership, debt accrual and procedures for the accumulation of wealth, Levitical law makes enormous provisions for the well-being of the disenfranchised.

    Understand me when I say that financial prosperity is not necessarily wrong or evil. God intended us to enjoy creation. However, financial prosperity at the expense of or without consideration for the marginalized violates Levitical law, and cannot be found in any of Jesus’ teachings. Thematically, when the Bible speaks of positively of financial prosperity, it does so in the context of the entire community, not individuals.

    When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, I can’t imagine that he thought it should include malnourished kids, elderly who can’t afford medication, or families who don’t have enough money to have their heat turned back on in the dead of winter.

    When such disparities exist, when some of God’s children go without basic necessities while other children spend exorbitant amounts on unnecessary desires, it’s difficult for me to believe that Christians are faithful. Most non-Christians I know disbelieve in the power of Christianity for such reasons.

  7. That sounds a bit like what Shane Claiborne writes about in his book Irresistable Revolution (the title is meant to be italisized but I don´t know the Spanish word for italisize).

    I´m not real sure what the Bible has to say about hospitality, but I am learning plenty about it from the Sisters here. I think that there is something more to the coffee and pizza than bribing them to listen to what you have to say. I think that sharing food is a very intimate way of serving others.

  8. Money is money. You will get everything with money. “friends”, “love”, “good life”, religion.. How we supposed to help poor people if we don’t have money.. Then only what we can do is to love. Allways we have to remember to love each others

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