“Hey Molly, how are you, fellow Christian? What’s Christianity like over there?”
This note from a stranger, presumably in another country, recently popped up in my Facebook Messenger. You might’ve gotten one similar at some point. Since there’s a high chance of this kind of contact leading to spam, or worse, of course, I didn’t answer. But it did get me thinking.
What is Christianity like over here, in the U.S.?
Honestly? Here’s the first word that came to my mind: weak. Pretty weak, dear stranger. Wimpy, too.
And another word came to my mind: cool.
Have you seen the t-shirts? “I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.” Ya, we’re proud of that now. We smirk at our shortcomings, and apparently we think Jesus does too.
See, we’ve made Christianity whatever we want it to be. Whatever fits our own lifestyle at the moment. Whatever isn’t too out of step with what non-believers are doing.
We’ve reduced following Jesus into something cute that we Instagram.
The only Bible verses we know are the ones about ourselves. The ones about how much God values us, and how He has a plan for us, and how He’s going to just make everything ok.
We’ve made celebrities out of praise and worship performers. On streaming services, non-believers put together playlists for us like, “Top Christian Hits.”
Christianity is cool.
And when I first started noticing all this, I thought maybe it was great. Hey, the U.S. is embracing Christianity again. They’re acknowledging Jesus-followers. That’s good.
But then I watched. And I listened. And I scrolled. And I thought again.
So by the time I got that Facebook message, my heart knew the real answer to that question, “What’s Christianity like over there?”
It’s weak. We’re weak.
Because it’s not that the world has embraced the church, rather the church has embraced the world, and we don’t really stand out any more, so now Christianity is cool.
And if in your mind right now, you’re thinking, “Ya! Shame on all those churches with those colored lights and those rock bands and no dress standards…” You’re. missing. the. point.
Some of the most “conservative” Christians I know, in their own way, have made Christianity cool, too. And consequentially weak.
Because here’s a hard truth: being weird doesn’t make you a good Christian.
Being out of touch with the world isn’t synonymous with biblical separation.
Some of us are just weird, all on our own. We’re not weird because we follow Jesus. We’d be weird if we were not believers. Some of us are just not ever going to be cool, so we turn our un-coolness into the prideful assumption that it must mean we’re more spiritual.
But the un-cool Christians have our own culture. Our own hierarchy. Certain preachers or musicians are “cooler” than others within the “un-cool” circle. No, we don’t use those exact words. But while we raise our “we’re not like the world” banner high, under it, we pack out the house and even travel around, to hear our favorite preacher or favorite gospel singing group, and the lesser known preachers or the singers who maybe sometimes get a little off-key are overlooked, even mocked.
Stop and think about it. You know it’s true.
And if gravitating towards who’s more popular or who’s more talented isn’t like unbelievers, I don’t know what is.
In the U.S., we have brands of Christianity like we have brands of loaf bread and smart phones. You can pick. Which one do you like best? Which one serves you best? Which one do you fit in with the best?
Shame on us.
Shame on our weak, wimpy, cool Christianity, whatever brand we have. We’re not following Jesus, we’re just participating in a somewhat exclusive sub-culture that we’re at liberty to change when the need arises.
“Alright, Molly, you think you have it all figured out, so what does following Jesus look like?”
I don’t know, exactly. That’s what I’ve been combing through the Scriptures, through His words, through the accounts of His life, trying to learn.
I don’t have all the answers yet. In fact, I never will. But I know enough to know this:
Our Christian pop culture (whatever brand of it you subscribe to) is not what Jesus died for.