The Chains of “Cool”

I am not sure what the latest word is that would describe someone who is dressed in the latest fashions and has the latest everything. We used to say they were “cool” and then “hip”. I am not sure what that word is now. (Yes, I know I am definitely showing my age here, but hopefully you will stick with me…)

When we were teens we were so driven by peer pressure. Can you remember those days? When I was in high school, the “in” thing to have was designer jeans. Jordache, Calvin Klein, and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans were the thing to wear. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up but my mom took me school shopping late one summer and we found a good deal on Calvin Klein jeans. Wow, those jeans made me feel amazing! I finally looked “cool” (at least I thought I did–I’m not sure that anyone else thought that!)

We often think peer pressure is for young ones and goes away as we get older, but it really doesn’t. For some of us it does get better, but for many of us we continue to live driven by what people think of us.

Now, before we dig a little deeper into this subject of adult peer pressure, there is value in considering the thoughts and feelings of others. Paul talks about this in I Corinthians 8, where he is discussing things eaten to idols. In verse 9 he reminds us that we should think of others as we make choices that we have the freedom to make in Christ–

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.

There are many other verses in the New Testament that would encourage us to think of and love others (check out Philippians 2:3-4, I Corinthians 13, and I John 3).

So, of course, we know we must consider the thoughts and feelings of others. But notice that these verses are always “others” centered. Every one of the verses above and any other verse you will find about how we treat others in the New Testament is based on minimizing self, while focusing our attention on the other person.

Contrast this thought to the chains of “cool” (as I call them), which are completely focused on self. They are an obsession with making sure that we are thought of highly, that people think we have it all. They bring a preoccupation with the world’s styles, trends, and happenings. These chains keep us from speaking up about God and from sharing the Gospel. They are often the driving force behind the laughs at dirty jokes and the silent participation in things we know God hates.

These chains become a prison from which no action can be done without first thinking of its affect on what people will think of us. Rather than God’s desires and looking to His Word, these chains become the driving force behind what we wear, what we watch, what we do.

They are really a tiresome and ugly taskmaster but no one seems to care all that much. Looking like everyone else around us can become such an ingrained idol, that we soon grow used to those chains, forgetting the wonderful freedom we have in Christ.

(You have to wonder what kind of role peer pressure has played in history. Was it part of how Hitler became the chancellor of Germany and convinced young people to take part in the genocide of Jews? Is it how he got the German Christians to ignore what was going on around them? It is a powerful, powerful tool in the hands of the wrong man.)

So how do we make sure that peer pressure isn’t what is driving us personally? How do we keep free from the bondage of those chains of “cool”?

The first place (and really only place) to look for answers is the Bible. It is a hard discussion to have because what the Bible teaches goes against all that the world and even the church is saying currently. The world is telling us we must be like them in order to have any respect at all. The world would have us give up all biblical convictions and cave on the most basic of principles in order to be liked by them. This has led to great compromise, as we watch more and more churches capitulate to the demands of the world. Meanwhile, the mainstream church is saying we must be like the world to win the world. The great sin of the day is irrelevance. One has to wonder how low the view of God must be for someone who perpetuates this viewpoint but it is incredibly popular. So much so that it is now woven into the thought patterns of most young people and many old ones, as well. But, as we will will see below, this is actually in opposition to what the Bible teaches.

Let’s unpack this a bit and look at what God has to say about these things.

First, let’s look at what our view of the world’s opinions should be. There are many verses that talk about how we should view the world, but I am going to share James 4:4, which makes it extremely clear–

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

There is no ambiguity here. You cannot be friends with the world and with God at the same time. Think of a big river. The world is headed one way and the Christian is swimming upstream in the other direction, in complete opposition to the world. We cannot be swimming downstream and still claim to be God’s child. James couldn’t be any clearer on this point.

Practically speaking, this means that while there is nothing innately wrong with dressing stylishly or going to the movies or whatever, the driving force behind our choice should never be our desire to be like everyone else. Our choices shouldn’t be driven by our fear of the world’s derision, marginalization, and persecution.

Now, if you are being honest with yourself at this point, you will agree with me that this is much easier to write and read than to live out. We are naturally driven by our desire to fit in. It takes great intention and strength to stand out like a sore thumb in the midst of a crowd. It is not an easy path. But we know it is the path of the Christian. Jesus tells us this in John 15:19–

If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

And Paul confirms Jesus’s words in 2 Timothy 3:12–

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

These aren’t our favorite verses and I rather guess they are rarely chosen for Bible memory, and yet these are just two verses of many more that would remind us that we will not be loved by the world if we walk with Jesus Christ.

I don’t love to be reminded of this any more than you do, but it is the truth, according to the Bible.

Now, let’s look a bit at the church’s argument that we won’t win anyone to the Gospel without being like them. What does the Bible have to say about this?

The verse that always comes to mind when this discussion comes up is John 6:44–

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

In this verse, Jesus reminds us that it is the Father who draws man unto Himself. There is nothing we can do to make someone become saved.  Ephesians 1:3-6 further elaborates on this same theme–

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

These verses teach us that the salvation of those we love and care about is not based on what we do or do not do. Now, that being said, God does choose to use us to win souls for Him. But what we must remember is that He doesn’t need us. These verses shouldn’t keep us from sharing the Gospel but they should most definitely keep us from compromising our convictions and participating in sinful things under the guise of “winning people to Christ”. God chooses to use us but He doesn’t need our compromise and dalliances with the world to further His kingdom. In contrast, James would tell us to remain unspotted from the world (James 1:27). (And may I suggest that prayer would be a much better way to win those we love. God answers prayer! It is a much more effective tool than worldliness!)

I wish I could tell you that I have never worn the chains of “cool”. I really do. But, unfortunately, sometimes before I even realize it, I find myself in bondage to them once again. Thankfully, the Word is the key that unlocks the lock to those chains. When I get back into the Word, when I stay in the Word, that is when I am least vulnerable to these chains.

If you find yourself really driven by what other people think of you, I hope that you will get into the Word and dig deeper into this subject. There is so much there that I wasn’t able to include in this short post.

Let’s unlock that lock and shake off those chains, so that we can be vibrant, courageous, and unwavering testimonies for Christ.

No Excuses

Have you ever heard a fellow Christian say something like this: “Well, I just don’t have that gift.” Maybe you’ve even said it. Many of us have. Whether the discussion is on the topic of evangelism, giving, hospitality, or discernment, we often give ourselves passes on these commands in scripture with the phrase, “I don’t have that gift.”

But does that response hold up to biblical scrutiny?

This morning I want to take a look at this fairly common answer that is given whenever topics like these come up and make us uncomfortable.

God has made it very clear in Romans 12:3-8 that every redeemed person has a spiritual gift. Some of us know what ours is, some of us are still wondering, and some of us have never bothered to think about this at all. But every believer has one. The purpose of this post isn’t to delve into the spiritual gifts and how to know which one you have, but, rather, to determine if not having a particular gift is a pass at not practicing it.

It’s almost as if we believe that if we just say we aren’t good at it, then we can ignore it and go on our merry way.

So let’s unpack this just a bit. I feel like I may have bitten off a bit more than I can chew this morning, but let’s see what God’s Word says and see if I can then pull it all together. Let’s first turn to the book of John. This is one place that Jesus makes it very clear that we show we are His by doing what He commands–

John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.

We show we love Christ by keeping His commandments.

John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

The only way we can abide in Christ’s love is by keeping His commandments.

John 15:14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.

We have to assume the opposite is true, don’t we? If we don’t keep Jesus’s commands then we are not the friends of Jesus.

Lets hop on over to I John 2 where we read this–

I John 2:3-5  Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

So this takes it even one step further and says we are lying if we say we are a Christian but are not following God’s commands. We can’t say we know Him and then ignore the Word and the commands therein. John makes it all too clear that true believers just won’t do this.

But we can be deceived into thinking that a certain commandment doesn’t apply to us. Let’s take a look at some of these commands that we tend to ignore, using the excuse that it isn’t our gift–


I Peter 4:9  Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.

Romans 12:13 {Be} distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.


Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at[a] His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.


Philippians 1:9-10 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

I John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.


2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Proverbs 3:9-10 Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

I’ve picked these specific four things, because they seem to be the ones that are most excused because of not having the “gift”. Did I miss anything else?

Yes, God has given people special gifts and they help make the church run smoothly. But if they are only practiced by people who have these “gifts” then the Church would be sorely lacking, wouldn’t it? And that is where we find ourselves. Fewer people sharing the Gospel with others, fewer people giving of their first fruits, fewer people discerning, and fewer people practicing hospitality. And, perhaps, saddest of all, there are fewer and fewer even caring about these important things commanded by God in His Word as they are distracted and deceived by worldly worship, supernatural experiences, and mystical practices. The focus has turned inward to our own personal experience, rather than outward to how we can minister to others both by setting a godly example and by serving, according to God’s commands.

Not having a certain “gift” is not an excuse for not following God’s commands. Sure, it may come harder for us but that just means we need to work harder at doing it.

I will close with an example from my own life. I would not consider myself naturally gifted at hospitality. I have some friends who are really awesome at this. Their homes are lovely and impeccably clean, their food is delicious and served beautifully, and they make people who enter their homes feel comfortable and loved. My house is just a house and I am not all that into cooking. I don’t mind it, but it’s just not really my “thing”. And so I gave myself a pass on hospitality. But, more and more, the Lord convicted me about this. And I started to recognize a couple of things. First, I had to give up my pride. If my house isn’t cleaned or decorated just right, it’s okay. I am using it for His glory and I need to only please Him. I can’t worry about the critical eye of the “perfect homemaker”.  And, second, I don’t have to cook a fancy meal to be hospitable. I can just do coffee and dessert or buy pizza. We can do hot dogs at the fire outside or make ice cream sundaes. When I started thinking a little more outside the box it became so much easier.

I don’t have this nailed down and I certainly don’t practice it as often as I should, but I do feel like I’ve made progress and it came when I released what I felt it “should be” and started practicing what it “could be”. Perhaps this is true for all of the gifts. We don’t need to practice a gift perfectly. We just need to practice it to the best of our ability. That is all God asks of us. He will take it from there.

So let’s release our impossible expectations, our reluctance, and, most of all, our excuses and start following God’s commands in these areas. God will bless our obedience and the rewards will be great–here or in heaven and, often, in both places!


Some Favorites

Last Thursday my post was about evangelism. I hope that you were challenged to share the Gospel. If we truly believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, then it is not only our duty but it is also our privilege to share this with others. As I don’t have time to write a new post today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite posts on evangelism from the past few years.

What do we say? How should we go about it? How does modern evangelism differ from what the Bible teaches and does it really matter? And, for that matter, what is the Gospel? I hope these posts encourage you as you pray for and are given opportunities to reach your family, friends, and co-workers with the Good News!


What is the Gospel?

On Shows and Sharing (What if they don’t respond like I want them to?)

Comparing Modern Day Evangelism to What the Bible Teaches

On Sharing the Gospel (some thoughts on evangelism from I Thessalonians 2:1-12)

The Dialogue Deception (is it enough to just have a nice conversation with someone?)

Have a great Monday!

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