As I approach the “Early Stage of Middle Age” (40-45) I realize I am officially over-the-hill.
I also realize that the world is changing very quickly.
For example, I’m a writer in a world where fewer people read.
They text or tweet or IM.
But they don’t really read.
Most emails are never opened. Only half of you will open and read this one (on a good day).
Most books are never read by the people who purchase them.
So writers have to adapt. I have to write short stuff. Small words. Or people won’t pay attention.
And when it comes to writing for a Christian audience, there’s an even higher standard.
I’ve studied this for a few years and I think I have finally discovered the secret.
If you’re going to write for a Christian audience, you have to be COOL.
You don’t have to be particularly good at writing.
You don’t have to be original.
You don’t have to be Scriptural.
You don’t even have to be accurate.
You just have to look cool, sound cool, and say cool things that Christians want to hear.
I apologize to my international readers; maybe “cool” isn’t the right word (I’m a child of the 1970′s, when everybody knew what “cool” was).
Maybe a better word for Christian authors, teachers, and preachers is being “relevant.”
Ah, to be relevant is to be cool!
It’s cool to talk about things that are relevant – you know, things that people are excited about, worried over, or interested in.
Let’s talk about sex – that always gets people’s attention.
Let’s talk about homosexuality – that’s a hot-button issue.
Let’s talk about relationships and community – it’s on the forefront of Christian people’s minds.
Let’s talk about politics – great way to stir up the emotions.
Let’s talk about what good Christians should or should not do in the world – that always gets people riled up.
Let’s talk about the newest Christian music band, rock star, or worship song.
Let’s be a little bit controversial, because that always draws a crowd. People love controversy.
And let’s dress and talk and carry ourselves in a such a “cool” way that the world would never suspect that we are followers of Jesus.
Then (at just the right moment) we can “come out” and say, “Yeah… I’m a Christian.” And we can feel good about how cool and free and relevant and not that much different from the world we are; so cool that no one would have ever known we actually belong to Jesus unless we said something.
Well, I think that’s dumb.
So I guess I’m not cool.
And you know what?
I don’t care.
Because being “cool” or “relevant” or whatever you call it is really just a nice way of saying, “I’m a man-pleaser, not a God-pleaser.”
Why would you want to be a man-pleaser?
Many of the Jews believed in Jesus but would not say so because “they loved the praises of men more than the praises of God.”
I realize it’s not cool to talk about Scriptural integrity, reading the Bible, and prayer.
“Too ritualistic!” they cry.
I realize it’s not cool to talk about discipleship and taking up the Cross daily.
“Too legalistic!” they cry.
I realize it’s not cool to harp on the same basic teachings and foundational truths, year after year.
“Too simplistic!” they cry.
I realize people will get tired of hearing the same teachings presented and will move on to something more relevant, punchy, short, sweet, and titillating – or as they like to say, something “fresh.”
And I don’t care.
For every one person who gets tired of hearing Truth repeated, there are a thousand others who have never heard Truth before.
I also know that Mastery consists of learning a few basic principles and then practicing those basic principles every single day. No exceptions.
You can call it legalistic, ritualistic, simplistic. Well, so is breathing – but breathing is necessary for living.
You can call it old-fashioned, boring, irrelevant, and not-cool.
I call it spiritual maturity, living by Scriptural principles, and producing fruit.
The Cross was never intended to be “cool.” Neither is being a follower of Christ.
And when God speaks, it isn’t always want you want to hear, or what you think you need, or what you even asked for.
It’s so interesting that Jesus did not fit the message to the audience; He required the audience to fit themselves to the message.
Just about every expert says that Jesus told parables to make spiritual truths easier to understand.
That is the opposite of what the Bible says.
Jesus said He used parables to conceal the truth and make the message harder to understand, not easier.
Does that shock you?
He didn’t try to become more “relevant.”
He was not interested in being “cool.”
In fact, He knew something that a lot of Christian authors, teachers, and preachers have either forgotten, or never fully realized: that the audience will judge, but there is only One Person you have to please, and He’s the only One Whose judgment counts for anything.
And what’s really interesting is this: when I’m writing for Him (not for my audience), amazingly, more people write in to say, “That’s just what I needed” or, “That confirms what God was telling me earlier” or, “That was an answer to prayer.”
See how it works?
I don’t have the ability to decide what is or is not “relevant” for you.
Neither do you. We don’t know what we need. We don’t know what we don’t know.
But He knows what you need, and when you need it.
And by putting Him first, I am able to tap into His wisdom so He can touch you where you are.
Now that’s “cool.”
And relevant to boot.
I’m not called to be COOL; I’m called to be FAITHFUL.