I have never suffered the temptation to sacrifice or compromise to be cool or fashionable, since as one of the worlds preeminent nerds being cool has always been permanently out of my reach. Yet I do remember envying the cool. Wishing I had a smile that would make girls melt, or having such charm that I was universally beloved. Yet as a socially awkward teenage book nerd cool was an impossibility.
Tullian Tchividjian sees a similar problem with much of the church in America. (However I appreciate that he’s not a church basher who delights in exposing the churches flaws, rather he loves the church and wishes to see her strong again) He sees the church trying to become like the world because they believe that if we become acceptable to the world then the world will hear our message. There are a number of problems with this kind of thinking, but first we need to hear Tullian’s counter:
“Christians make a difference in the world by being different from this world; they don’t make a difference by being the same.”
His argument throughout the book is that if we blend in we lose all our power to change or influence this world. I think he makes a powerful case. And combine these insights with David Wells arguments in The Courage to be Protestant where he argues that to become acceptable to the world we have to give away the store (the Gospel itself) leaving us with nothing left to proclaim or to influence anyone with. To critique or influence the world we must stand outside of it as a kind of counterculture.
Basically seeking relevance makes us irrelevant. Seeking cool leaves us with nothing left to say. We must remember that we serve a CRUCIFIED savior. One whose cross is foolishness to the world. Tchividjian closes his book with a call for us to live for an audience of one, pointing out that the need for acceptance isn’t wrong, we just have to seek it in the right place, with our loving heavenly Father.
The church must not be like me, the book nerd looking at the cool people across the cafeteria with a twinge of envy; because it is simply an impossibility for us, the cross of Jesus is foolish and strange to a fallen world. Lets live and strive not to be fashionable, but rather to be faithful to our audience of One.