Irrelevant (or, What happens when Christians try too hard to be cool)

Yesterday, for the first time since my subscription ran out in 2007(?) I took a look at an issue of Relevant Magazine, the magazine about God, Life and Progressive Culture. I remembered enjoying it a great deal back in the day, particularly as a brand-new Christian. A few really enjoyable (and often very helpful) articles in every issue, interesting layout, and the odd bits of silliness.

So I look at the latest issue (via the digital copy on their website), and man, oh man, that’s a lousy magazine. Seriously, for a magazine in which God is to figure so prominently, outside of an article about how the guy who produces Aqua Teen Hunger Force being a Christian, I don’t recall seeing Jesus anywhere in it. Zooey Deschanel got more coverage (and I suspect it’s mostly because she’s the indie-film darling that the kids adore).

I don’t want to come off as being overly critical or unnecessarily judgemental, but sometimes I have some serious concerns about the quest of many Christians to be “progressive.”

When I look around and see Christians trying so hard to be cool—magazines that are indistinguishable from any other one on the shelf, guys with floppy hair and skinny jeans, Sunday services with smoke machines and laser beams… you get the idea—I find myself troubled. When we get so caught up in trying to be cool, when we get consumed by the pursuit of cool, we become nothing more than an echo of culture. We begin to look like everything else.

And that makes us completely irrelevant.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to have killer music and wear jeans with your shirt un-tucked. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be funny or to understand culture. Quite the contrary—we must understand culture. We’re just not supposed to mimic it.

Christianity is inherently uncool. We worship, in the eyes of the world, a broke carpenter who got murdered. That is not cool.

Going to church on Sunday to sing songs and listen to someone preach from the Bible is not cool.

Believing that Jesus is real, is coming back and is going to bring judgement is not cool.

Pursuing a life of holiness and humility is not cool.

Now, I’ve never been a guy who could be accused of being cool (even with nerd-chic still having some cache). I’m just not that guy. But, if I have to choose between the pursuit of holiness and the pursuit of coolness, I’ve got to go with holiness.

Holiness—living a life in passionate pursuit of Jesus Christ—is what makes us distinct. It’s what gives us something to say to the world around us.

It’s the only way to be relevant.

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books including the Big Truths Bible Storybook, Epic Devotions, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty, and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. His next book, published by Lexham Press, will release in Spring 2023.