I love chapter 3 in Tullian Tchividjian's new book Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different. The chapter is titled "Seduced by Cool" and couldn't come at a more appropriate time. The American church (there are beautiful exceptions) has been tripping over itself for years trying to keep up with cool. Pastor Tullian offers what amounts to a cold bucket of water in the face as a means of shocking us out of our infatuation with showing the world how relevant, cool, hip, etc. we can be.
The chapter opens by quoting Spurgeon--which is almost always a good thing: "He who marries today's fashion is tomorrow's widow." From here Tchividjian launches into his jeremiad:
According to Jesus, Christianity is not cool.
There, I said it.
I'll even go a step farther: if what's fashionable in our society interests you, then true Christianity won't. It's that simple.
Think about it. Jesus said some pretty unfashionable stuff. If you want to live, you must die. If you want to find your life, you must lose it. He talked about self-sacrifice and bearing crosses and suffering and death and the dangers of riches. He talked about the need to lay down our lives for those who hate us and hurt us. He talked about serving instead of being served, about seeking last place and not first. He talked of gouging out our eyes and cutting off our hands if they cause us to sin.
He was making the profound point that daily Christian living means daily Christian dying--dying to our fascination with the sizzle of this world and living for something bigger, something thicker, something eternal. Jesus calls his people to live for what is timeless and not trendy, to take up the cross and follow him, even when it means going against social norms.
Of course, all this is flat-out uncool in a world that idolizes whatever cultural craze is in style, whatever is fashionable.
My guess is few professing Christians would disagree with Pastor Tullian's exhortation. Indeed, it will be in the main greeted with hearty "Amens."
The problem comes in resisting the allure of the world and actually embracing biblically unfashionable living for the glory of God. Tullian warns that many of us are so entrenched in the sinful patterns of this world that God's ways have become far too distant in our vision:
Our being cognitively and morally entrenched in the ways of this world is just what the devil wants. His main strategy is the same for both Christains and non-Christians: keep them feeling comfortably at home in this world. The real danger for many of us is that the longer we live, the less conscious we become of the fallen patterns, the less resistant we are to their entanglements. Though believers in Christ, many of us are attached to the world in ways that show we've forgotten our identity as exiles. For too many of us, the patterns of this fallen world have grown all too familiar, while the ways of God seem distant and strange.
Pastor Tullian presses the point throughout the book that when Christians succumb to worldliness not only is God not honored, but people are not helped. In other words, more than our "cool" people need Christ--the One who proclaimed "I am not of this world" because "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 8:23; 18:36).
In the end, blessed are the uncool.
Here's a brief video of Pastor Tullian introducing his forthcoming book: