Sermon, 8.2.09"Seduced by Cool" Rev. Erik Bonkovsky Hebrews 11:1-3; 32-40
As set forth in the book Unfashionable, the church spends a lot of time trying to be cool. But it's truthfulness, not trendiness, that people are really hungry for.
- As individuals.
There is an inescapable seduction that our society calls out, that we must do this, have this, or look like this. And it is really hard to ignore when it blares at us from every TV screen, billboard, and bus ad. This culture of orienting everything in our lives to ensure that we fit in leads not only to being motivated by material things, but to rejecting others who don't fit in. We belittle people who don't get a joke, or haven't heard of a certain technology, or haven't seen some movie.
- As churches.
It's easy to get sucked in to the idea that we have to have a really slick web site, a clever name for our youth group, or some ironic facial hair in order to measure up to the standards of the modern church. And in our case specifically, it's pretty cool to worship in the afternoon, and in the city. But we can't get caught up with those details, acting as though how we present ourselves is more important than what's really going on inside our church.
What's behind this drive to be cool? We've established some person -- maybe a celebrity or someone we know -- who has "arrived," and we emulate them in order to feel accepted. Cool is an attempt to make ourselves look worthy, when judged by such-and-such a standard. We end up being owned by it, this expectation of being cool, because we can't deviate from it. And so it becomes a stifling prison; an idol that can never love us back.
But as Christians our identity does not come from being cool. The bible celebrities described in this passage weren't cool; they were mistreated, ignored, and killed. And yet the world wasn't even worthy of them (v. 38)! They were people out of tune with this world, because they were living by faith. Their identity, their validation came from a promise that God loved them. They weren't saved by their faithfulness, they were saved by the faithfulness of Christ. All they did was look ahead, truly believing what they had been promised.
You can be cool for a while, but you can be Christ's forever. There's something bigger than fashion, music, and getting all the latest jokes. This is not to say that we shouldn't look nice or listen to good music or obtain a helpful gadget, but that these things cannot be where we get our identity.