By Aaron Evans
We all know someone that embodies the “cool Christian” stereotype. They’re edgy, Toms-wearing, guitar-playing, coffee-drinking, Francis Chan-reading, devotional junkies who can talk theology until you fall asleep in your coffee.
Sometimes they even drink craft beer or smoke pipes while blogging about their newest theological insights from their torn up, highlighted Bible. This whole image reeks “edgy Christian,” and it’s irresistibly cool.
The problem with this image is that our culture’s obsession with self-image is bleeding into our faith.
Recently I read an article called “Sexy Christianity” by blogger Kyle Donn. The article discussed the dangers of trendy faith and how “[it’s] dangerously cool. And that’s the thing… it’s dangerous. Here and there, it’s spot on; but my fear is that it flirts with the edge and settles for the empty satisfaction of a cultural ego-trip.”
Reading this article forced me to stop and think about a few things that I’ve noticed not only other people doing but also things I’ve been doing. Donn brings up a strong point when he mentions the “cultural ego-trip.” There will never be a time when we no longer have the desire to fit in. It’s been wired into our brains since elementary school to always be on a wild treasure hunt for the cool factor. We relish that feeling of coolness once we think we found it, and we take pride in other people noticing how trendy we are.
Many of us will be the ones who walk into some anon coffee shop with our MacBooks, Bibles and devotionals, sipping on fair-trade coffee. Are any of these things wrong? Absolutely not. I drink coffee like water and I love going to the local coffee shop in my hometown just to read my Bible and do my daily devotionals. Sometimes I wish I could play guitar like all the cool youth pastors do at church camps, and I love to buy fair-trade things, even though I can never afford it.
None of these surface level things cause a problem, but many of us are secretly hoping for someone to see our worn-out Bibles and the charity stickers that litter our laptops and say,
“Wow, you must be really serious about God,” to which we will reply with some comment about how we hate religion but love Jesus. My fear is that we’re being captivated by how we appear as believers to other people, instead of being captivated by God and who He wants us to be.
Let me ask a question: If we take away all the coolness, coffee shops and trendy theology books, will Jesus still captivate us? If Christians become hated and killed in every part of the world and suddenly our edgy theology blogs won’t save us, will we still follow God?
I will be the first to admit that I do most — if not all — of the things I’ve listed above. After reading Donn’s article, I really had to think about how much stock I put into this idea of trendy faith instead of thinking about who I’m serving in the first place.
Keep in mind, things like Toms, fair-trade coffee and Christian blogs are harmless. However, the way we view ourselves through these things can feed this idea of trendy Christianity, and that is dangerous.
Our faith is not in coffee shops, acoustic guitars or edgy philosophical books, but in God alone.
We owe it to God to pursue Him, with or without popular trends that make following Him easier.