Loving Jesus When He's Through Being Cool.
Music changed my life when I was changing most.
Isolated on a Caribbean island, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Top 40 radio still caught my teenage ears. I gave “Christian music” a chance when my youth pastor claimed there were bands similar to Metallica. I don’t know which I was most frightened by, Vengeance Rising or all the tiny Bible verses printed in their lyric sheets.
For a long time, music that was Christian in content (and credible in artistic excellence) helped convince me Jesus wasn’t so out of touch, making it possible for me to be cool and Christian. After all, Larry Norman had longer hair than Jesus and I was fairly sure he and Michael Knott were stylistically creative as anyone else.
Adding fuel to my fire, Mike Knott “co-founded” Tooth & Nail Records with my former boss. It made sense, though, because Tooth & Nail was the grittiest, most glorious thing to ever hit a Family Christian Bookstore. It was 1994, back when you asked the bookstore to open a CD (or cassette) so you could Walkman-listen while you perused their two alternative rock shelves. Starflyer 59’s Silver stirred me to dream years before I’d be offered a desk in Seattle.
For me, Christianity may have been at it’s coolest when mewithoutYou, Magnified Plaid, Spirit-filled Hardcore, and youth groups by the thousands congregated for summer festival after festival. What band did you sweat most with in a dirty field?
What was the attraction? Was Jesus really that cool, or was emo/punk/metal thriving to the point of shared popularity?
Admittedly, I’m 43-years-old now and way too disconnected to know what the kids are into. Other than The Chainsmokers. I’ll admit that too. I like The Chainsmokers for their witty-fun lyrics, the song they wrote with Coldplay, and mostly because I like that my 16-year-old daughter likes them.
“How much you wanna risk?”
Old-dad disclaimer aside, culture as a whole sure feels to me like she’s breakneck-speed accelerating away from a biblical view of Jesus in favor of a lazier, more amicable road. Can’t we all just stop believing the Bible, ignore Hell, affirm sin and still call ourselves Christians?
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13&14).
Jesus had a cult following until the vampire-cannibal parable.
“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.’” (John 6:53).
There were a few anti-bands I worked with who may have unexpectedly, accidentally thinned their crowds, but Jesus deliberately chose hard words over maximized, non-committed masses. “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” (John 6:66).
Jesus died and lives so we could eat His flesh and drink His blood. You are what you eat.
When Jesus is through being culturally cool, how do you stay in love with Him?
Here’s how not to love Jesus (in 3 easy steps):
Set local/national/global media as the barometer for Jesus-activity.
Envy what God is doing “over there.”
Assume people are too liberal, Republican, lost, hipster, whatever to surrender.
3 much harder steps to help you stay in love with Jesus:
Place your ear to the ground of where God is moving, by observing Christians who are radically, unapologetically moving toward Jesus.
Praise God for what He’s doing “over there” and invite Him closer.
Remind yourself that you, like me, were once too liberal, Republican, lost, hipster, whatever to surrender.
I’d love to hear what you think.
Is Jesus through being cool? And if so, what helps you love Him when He’s telling you to eat His flesh and drink His blood?
Photo: Jered Martin