Thou Shalt Be Cool

I read an interesting conversation this week on our youth group’s Facebook page. The discussion sought to determine who among them was, and wasn’t,cool(especially in regards to the youth pastor). It reminded me of a column I had read several years back from Andy Crouch in Christianity Todayon that very subject.

In the CT column, the author wrote of attending a hip Generation X pastor’s conference, where a young pastor told him he was “starting a church for coolpeople.” Of course, he had a particular group in mind when he used that term. His own generation. Coolpeople.
As much as the latest generation would always like to think that they have a corner on cool, sometimes cool is in the eye of the beholder. Hairstyles and clothing fads and pithy expressions do turn over at a rapid pace, and choosing the wrong word could mark you as a cultural fossil of some forgotten decade. Groovy and awesome and phat may come and go, but one word in the English language has defied the rise and fall of fashion. From the most elderly Baby Boomer to the youngest kids in our youth group, there’s something about cool that won’t go away. Coolendures.
Defining cool is another issue. To quote from Crouch:
Why has ‘cool’ persisted? Like James Dean, cool enshrines the American longing for perpetual adolescence. Cool is vaguely irresponsible, decidedly noncommital…
It is impossible to be cool and be a parent, especially of multiple children. (Those with deep reservoirs of coolness–like rock starts or Hollywood types–are allowed an exemption.) As every teenager knows, it is definitely impossible to be cool and have a parent, at least a visible one. Dependence is the very annihilation of coolness. So SUVs are cool–minivans are not. No one has ever designed a cool diaper bag, and no one ever will.
Being thin is cool, but working out is generally not cool, unless you have the kind of body that looks like you don’t need to work out–a kind of cool Catch-22. Coffee is cool, espresso is cooler. Smoking is coolest of all, though cancer is definitely not cool–it leads to doctors and hospitals and loss of control, and cool is, after all, a shorter version of ‘control.’ Therefore, quitting smoking is cool. Who said cool had to be consistent?
The more I think about my conversation with that leader of the church for cool people, the more I worry that he was missing something. Cool is the temperature of the morgue. It is the absence of blood, of heat, of breath. Cool is not the word to describe a man in agony in a garden, His sweat like drops of blood on the ground. It is not the word for a Son’s free submission to His Father’s will, nor for His lonely cry to that Father, nor for nakedness and passion and forgiveness and life.
To be sure, everyone needs a church, even cool people. I just hope they find out that another became cool so we wouldn’t have to.
That says it so well. Jesus Christ was the ultimate in cool, not because of the beard and sandals, but because He sacrificed His life so that we would not have to. That’s the message of the cross, and I hope the Lord reminds you of that enduring truth of the gospel each day. Cool!
Have a blessed weekend. I’m praying for you, and look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
–Pastor Ken