Making Jesus Cool
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are,  so that no one may boast before him. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)
“If people like us, they’ll like Jesus too. If they think we’re cool, they’ll think Jesus is cool too.” Such is the wisdom of the world. Such is the way the church often operates.
Why is it
when a celebrity, whether an actor, musician, or sports star becomes a
Christian, we immediately want to parade them around in front of the world? It
seems they are immediately put on speaking circuits, often without much needed
preparation and opportunity for spiritual growth. Is it because we are
thinking, “If the world sees we have “so-and-so” on our team, they’ll have to
take notice”? It’s the same mentality of sitting at the “cool table” in middle
school. We hope we’ll be “cool” by association. And if they think we’re cool, they’ll think Jesus
is cool too.
Gone is the offense of the Cross – of our message. In 1 Cor. 1:17, Paul wrote,
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
If the church isn’t parading celebrities or local sports heroes around, then it’s very often genuflecting toward Madison Avenue, asking the PR gurus what sells. And what never sells is a hard message. The sharp angles must first be sanded down so as not to stick would-be seekers. Rather than heed Scripture and trust God, we often rob God of his message – his only message for a dark, decaying, and lost world. We end up replacing it with our own, void of the ability to transform lives. We empty the cross of its power by our words of human wisdom. Like a magician or confidence man, we engage in misdirection with our audience, hoping they won’t see the real Jesus and his Cross under the trapdoor.
For a variety of reasons, we all too often neuter and distort the message of the Gospel beyond all recognition. We ask seekers to just “add a little Jesus” to their lives. After all, just like Coca Cola, things go better with Jesus. No dying to self and cross-carrying; it’s easy-believism for everyone. Message to world: Not only are we cool, but our way is wide and easy (Matthew 7:13-14).
It must be asked if the “Jesus” being presented to thousands today is the Jesus of Holy Scripture. Is it the same gospel at all? If you are persecuted (as Jesus promises to those who follow him), if you find yourself ashamed of his gospel from time to time, if you occasionally offend someone simply by stating the gospel – then chances are good that you have the same message Paul referred to as, “foolishness to those who are perishing.”
On the other hand, if you’ve never felt ashamed, never been persecuted, never once offended a person by merely declaring the message of Christ and his Cross, then it must be asked, “What exactly have you been sharing?”
Make no mistake about it; the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in all its fullness, is an offense and stumbling block. But to those who are being saved it is the power of God – it’s majestic, beautiful, precious, and lovely – it’s indescribable.
Let’s resolve not to “improve” upon God’s message once for all delivered to the saints. Mind you, we should not rush out and become Jerks for Jesus as we share it. Instead, let’s be winsome, compassionate, persuasive, and wear big smiles on our faces. But let’s not alter the message to gain social acceptance. Let’s trust God. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Cor. 1:25).
- Have you ever been persecuted for your faith? Share what happened and why.
- Is it possible to share an offensive message in a winsome and positive manner? Give some examples.
- What are a few reasons some Christians are hesitant about sharing the Gospel?
- Have you ever caught yourself softening the message of the Gospel so you wouldn’t offend a person? Do you think the person would have really been offended? Do you think your decision had more to do with a fear of people than a fear of God? Explain.
- What are some ways we can share the Gospel in a positive and winsome way, yet not compromise its fulness? With one or two Christians, brainstorm this question and then pray for God to give you boldness, trust, and opportunities to share God’s good news with others.