I know, I know. It’s a paradox. The very fact that a Christian could be looked upon by the world as “cool” is a hilarious concept, but it is exactly the aim of most modern churches. At least those who are willing to adapt their building, programs and way of doing ministry to suit culture as it changes. Not simply to just make people comfortable, but to literally tailor services so that they don’t offend culture in any way, and cuddle up to it with a sense of self-righteousness that boasts of relevance. This includes the message, lights, stage, band, use of scripture and even Christ Himself all used in a way that doesn’t step on culture’s toes. I heard it first when my wife listened to a sermon from a youth leader once that, in his bold sermon, stated that, “Christians need to be wearing appropriately modern cool clothing to attract unbelievers to Christ.” Wow. I shudder to think of the implications of this to the hearers spiritual status. Christians need to wear “cool” clothing? So… cool to who? Why? Where in scripture is dress a common attractant to the shed blood of Jesus? This madness actually comes from a rather influential little book entitled, “Self-esteem – the new reformation” by Robert Schuller.
In this book he sums up that, essentially, the 16th century reformation that involved Martin Luther and John Calvin was one that focused on scripture being brought back into it’s proper focus, and that a new reformation was needed that revolved around people’s “self-esteem.” In this book, he states:
“Yes, what we need in the worldwide Christian church today is nothing less than a new reformation. Where the sixteenth-century Reformation returned our focus to sacred Scriptures as the only infallible rule for faith and practice, the new reformation will return our focus to the sacred right of every person to self-esteem!”
The right of every person to “self-esteem.” How wrong could someone get as to their hypothesis for the problem of humanity in light of scripture? The answer is that many, many people absolutely love to mess around with the simple, original message of the Bible that all humanity is depraved and cannot save itself, and is sick and need of a doctor who can eradicate sin and its penalty of eternal hell. For millenia this doctrine of depravity and reconciliation through the shed blood of Jesus has been steered around by many different routes, but self esteem is one of them. The premise is this: Everybody’s sad, and loathes themselves. If only they could catch a glimpse of how beautiful, wonderful, gorgeous, lovely and great they were through the lens of God… then they would find true joy in knowing how great they are, and God would be happy to send Jesus to make them think this way. Scripture clearly has an antithetical view, and, as much as we’d like to change it, it doesn’t budge. Colossians 2:13 says,
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”
Is the problem of the gap between God and man self-esteem or needing more loving words? Nope. It’s sin. Adam and Eve were not kicked out of Eden because they forgot to remind themselves of how wonderful they were: They were kicked out purely because they tried to undermine God almighty by usurping His authority and taking control of things without God. They disobeyed His one simple command to not eat of a particular tree. Simple. If Adam and Eve were booted from a perfect residence for not believing in themselves enough God would have sent an encouraging snake to butter them up more, give them a Joel Osteen CD and tell them to be on their way! God, however, was seeking to commune with Adam and looking for a confession and repentance from him after they ate the fruit and hid from sight. But all He got was a flat out blame game played out before His eyes. Adam blamed Eve for being created. Eve blamed the serpent for speaking with her and influencing her, and things have been horrid ever since! No scripture points to a problem of self-esteem that causes Jesus to die for. Nowhere. Every time Jesus shed blood is mentioned in the Bible it’s in connection to forgiveness of sins and saving from God’s wrath. Every one. He was the promised Messiah given to us to redeem us from the curse of the law of bondage and from death, sin and hell itself, as well as God’s holy anger. So, instead of punishing us, God in His infinite mercy sent Jesus to die in our place. Essentially He took off His robe of judge and stood in the firing line of guilt in our spot. That’s amazing grace. That’s the problem that needed fixing. If it was self-esteem… well, the entire world wouldn’t need Jesus, just motivational speakers, teachers and materials to get by day by day telling them how wonderful they are and how great they are that God would think of them so highly…
Cool Christianity simply doesn’t cut it when we boil doctrine down to its core today. It’s a façade that robs everyone of their actual need for a Saviour, and turns their eyes completely away from the finished work of Jesus to their own satisfaction in their own ego and personality. It’s a disease that has spread from America straight to Australia through Word-Faith doctrine from the 1970’s onwards. Today, we have youth ministers travelling the nation preaching the same thing week after week after week: God thinks you’re amazing! God thinks you’re the bees knees! God loves you! God wants to bless you! All the while the poor multitudes hearing this are completely missing the point of the cross of Jesus – the forgiveness of their lawlessness and sin. That hell is their portion and that they’re under God’s wrath until they trust in Jesus for salvation. They are missing out on precious living water that never runs out in Jesus! They are being built up into people that constantly need to be fed positive messages otherwise they’ll cripple like rice paper under the weight of anything Biblical! And it’s sad. Truly sad.
Motivational speaking is supposed to be something that American televisions beam to us. But it’s being preached everywhere. All the time. Every Sunday. Where are the preachers who delve into the reality of hell, heaven and salvation? Where are the young preachers who care about doctrine, rightly handling God’s word and preaching books of the Bible as their sermons? Where are the bold men who will answer the call to “preach the word in season and out of season,” and who will, “not shrink from declaring unto you the entire council of God.” Please be one of those people if you are reading this. Please. For the sake of the youth and those sitting in front of you on a Sunday or any day meeting who are listening to you preach. It is your job to “rebuke, reproof, exhort with all patience and long-suffering.” Not to tickle ears and preach what people think they need. That’s a false teachers job. There’s enough of those already .