Christianity has got to be more than fitting in with the cool crowd. It has got to be more than the latest fashion trend or popular #hashtag. Let’s be honest, if any of you have ever worn something (skinny jeans for example) just because it’s the style and all your friends are wearing them you’ll relate with what I’m about to say next.
I got my first pair of skinny jeans when I was a freshman in high school.
Yeah I know, I was late to the trend, but I felt super cool in them and they were my favorite jeans. I especially loved them when I found out that the really radical, Jesus-loving Christians that I looked up to and wanted to join, wore them. These days–I live in a community of skinny jeans, Toms, beanies and flannel shirts. (I may or may not have been describing my outfit from yesterday). None of these things are wrong, in fact, I find them quite comfortable, but it is definitely a picture of what kind of culture surrounds me.
Take a look at the “hipster” (whatever that means) Christian of today. Gather 25,000+ at a conference like one I was at in December and you get a pretty good feel for what they (or we) look like. In fact, after awhile every single youth group, campus connect, and college core group starts to look the same because they all sport the same trendy, edgy, “I’m-too-cool /too-vegan /too-broke /too-Christian-to-wear-anything-but-what-my-friends-are-wearing” look.
Now before you think I’m being hypocritical and judging people’s spiritual lives based on their outfits, which would be pretty shallow of me, please understand that I’m not. I could never suppose anything about someone’s spiritual life based on their clothes. God sees what man does not and I am no one to say if someone doesn’t have a deep relationship with the Lord or not. The Bible does teach that we are to know people by their fruit, but that’s a blog post for another day. The point is–the issue I’m hitting at is one I see in myself.
Sometimes we wear Christianity like we wear our skinny jeans.
It’s cool. It makes us feel good. It’s what our crowd wears. But what happens when you, your skinny jeans and beanie move to western Kansas where the “cool” thing to wear is boots, Camo and a cowboy hat? Suddenly it’s not so easy to keep wearing what you’ve always worn.
I think my generation has learned very quickly how to adapt and blend in. We know how to fit the norm, and when that changes, so do we. But because of that we don’t really know who we are and the things that ought to define us are easily tossed aside. It’s one thing to be the Christian who worships at the front, prays all day, and loves to serve others when you are surrounded by a community that defines that as “radical Christianity”. It is completely another thing to be that person with people who don’t understand you, think you’re weird and don’t love Jesus. Most adults are shocked at the statistic that 75% of teenagers leave the church after high school yet from my vantage point in my generation, I can see that it’s because they’re skinny jean deep.
It’s gotta be more than talk. It’s gotta be deeper than my skinny jeans.
Like I said, I see this in me. There are several areas in my life that have prodded this topic out of me. It’s caused me to come to terms with who I am and say, “I need the real thing”. I can’t just have the appearance of a life of prayer because my schedule demands it and it’s the cool thing to be doing (see my page on IHOPKC to find out what I mean by this). If I’m going to spend the rest of my life building the House of Prayer (wherever God leads) then I need something a little deeper than my skinny jeans. Because, yeah prayer is cool when we’re all packed into a room pacing and singing but if I don’t actually meet with the Man on the emerald throne, am I really praying? And if everyone else left the room and no one thought prayer was important anymore, would I stay? My heart breaks as I see the lack of true prayer in my own life. I would hope that I would be one who stayed–not for the sake of looking “radical”–but for the great honor, the great privilege of being with Him.
Jesus can’t be like the cool pair of pants you put on. He’s not a trend. He’s a person.
What’s the point in wearing the right t-shirts, supporting the right causes and going to the right church retreats all for the sake of “appearance” if you don’t actually have anything authentic going on on the inside? It’s terribly sad that 75% of my generation leaves the Church after high school, most, never to return. And why? Because that’s what happens when Church is something you do instead of something you live and when Christianity is something you put on yourself, instead of something you put in yourself.
If you never knew you could form a deep friendship with God because you were so busy wearing the skinny jeans (i.e. looking the part) I’m here to tell you, you can. (And you can even keep wearing actual skinny jeans if you like). It starts with getting alone, and talking to God. It’s one thing to change what you wear based on the people you’re around, but when you’re around the Maker of the Universe, you can’t change or hide a thing. You also don’t have to–you will find acceptance in His presence. He’ll win you over in that place, where prayer and the Word become better than the next Friday night out, and then from that place you’ll live deeper than skinny jeans. Then it doesn’t matter so much if you’re praying alone or in front of thousands or if loving Jesus is cool or uncool, because regardless of any of it, it’ll be real.