Never Wanted to be a “Cool Kid.”

The Rumors, The Fear Jesus Ducking Christ!

Today we go back to that dark upper room and sit in the center of the rumor mill that brought fear to Jesus’ disciples. And this is published late in the night because I forgot to hit the button! For the lessons, follow this link: and of course find me everywhere! P — Send in a voice message:
  1. The Rumors, The Fear
  2. Never wanted to be a Cool Kid.
  3. So I Can Ask for Anything?
  4. Anyone Here Got Mint Jelly?
  5. Who Dat?!

To “be cool” as a teen is the worst thing you can do to your kids.

You ask, “What?”

When you’re a teenager, “being cool” means you’ll be captured on camera wearing the “coolest” looks. And one day, when they see how “cool” you appear in those photos—which will be the antithesis of “cool” by the time they do—your children and grandchildren will sigh with embarrassment.

Who’s into grunge? Tie-dye? Padded shoulders? Converse? Platforms? Earth footwear? ADIDAS parachute pants, thigh hugger jeans, ladies. That’s right, I am not going to spare anyone!
Hell, I was a skater boy. So I had baggy pants, my skater shoes, and baggy shirts. Sometimes I would blend some grunge with flannel and a thermal undershirt or underpants under my baggy shorts. Airwalks were too rich for my family, though. So Walmart knock-offs it was.

Being fashionably “in the moment” simply ensures that you will be made fun of mercilessly by your children a few years down the road. Our only solace is in the knowledge that the following “cool generation,” and the following, and the following, will also suffer a similar fate.

Some trends, though, are timeless. Some trends never go away.

Cowboys are inherently cool.
-Jeans cannot be canned, regardless of their width.

-Whether 1950 or 2005, a well-fitting T-shirt always stays in style.

However, the majority of what passes for “fashion” is fleeting. It is made with the idea of going out of style the following season, forcing you to purchase a new outfit to “stay cool.” Fashion embodies the term “planned obsolescence.”

Electronic trends shift even more quickly than fashion trends do. Everyone is aware that hemlines fall when the economy collapses. But who could have predicted that “Tweet Street” would have opened up for rush hour traffic when the bottom fell out of Wall Street. Even as the stock market crashed, Tweeting took off as small, personal, less organized, and as individualized as it was.

The world has its own standards for what constitutes “success,” “cool,” and “power.” However, those metrics are cultural yardsticks rather than gospel measurements. They also generally last until the media picks up on a different “latest trend” or “new and improved” upgrade, which is usually not very long.

So, this morning’s issue is: How do we, who are committed to a timeless, 2,000-year-old truth, remain “new” at all times without ever becoming “old-fogeys”?

The gospel reading for today contains the solution. First, it’s crucial to remember that Jesus said this prayer, from which we read a portion this morning in front of his disciples. While his followers were watching, Jesus prayed loudly to the “Father,” creating an identity for them. Prayer was a crucial component of what it meant to be a Jesus disciple.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the CSI: Las Vegas theme music. I was interested in the show just from the song video. I believe the Who’s “Who Are You?” theme tune begins with “I really want to know!” helped forge the show’s identity and contribute to its popularity as the foundation of the entire CSI series. The disciples were given an identity that would be useful to them in the future because of the strength of Jesus’ prayer to the “Holy Father” he said in front of them.

However, this triangulation formula, which Jesus established in his public prayer to the “Father,” was part of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus’ followers have an identity that is to be “in” the world, not “of” the world, but not “out of it” either. Christians are to be entirely IN the MIDDLE of everything that happens in the world while completely OUTSIDE the pernicious force and draw of the world’s enticements. This is how we should relate to culture. Even though it may be charming to be “out of it” (one thinks of the Muslim Shiite/Taliban sects, the Jewish Lubavitchers, and the Christian Amish), any religion that chooses to ignore recent history sacrifices relevance for charm and chooses a museum identity over a missional identity.

This drags me back to that fashion trend many preppy Christians liked to tote about on their wists, keychains, and from beads hanging on their backpacks. “WWJD” Being completely a skater and stoner, I would tell them that it really meant “Who wants Jack Daniels?” that’s because of this: The Jesus Prayer helped Jesus’ followers develop a personal brand that was not dependent on “What Would Jesus Do?” and some branches of the Jesus movement have forgotten that.

In his appeal for the disciples to be “IN” the world, Jesus provided the “WWJD” answer. Was Jesus a Facebook, of course? Was Jesus a Twitter user? Religiously, one might say. Did Jesus Rock on Tik Tok? Fuck yes, he does! The transition from an oral to a written culture was the leading-edge technology of the first century, which Jesus himself mastered.
Could Jesus read in a society where just 5% of people could read? Yes. How did we find out? In the temple, he read.

Could Jesus write if just 3% of the population could? Yes. How did you find out? In the sand, he drew. Although we don’t know what he wrote, we do know he was a capable writer. You know, in case you cared why that was there at all.

Would Jesus want us to work to lessen the difficulties for the underprivileged? Or would Jesus instead that we evangelize and make new disciples? Or would Jesus want us to start new religious communities? No doubt. These are questions we don’t even need to ask. Jesus desires that we live “in” the world.

However, Jesus does not desire us to be “of” the world. Because of this, the “how” question rather than the “what” question is the one we should be asking. In 2023, how would Jesus be in the world?

So what are you doing with your social media? What are you doing on the internet? How would Jesus do? would he post some stupid “If you love Jesus type ‘amen?” No, but he would ask those in power why 582K+ people are homeless in a country with more space and money than anyone. He would shout that instead of having a military budget bigger than any other country, it should be the education budget and our social services budget because all people and nations are called. And in this country? In the United States of America, that is what it would look like if we were an honest-to-goodness “Christian nation.”
Jesus didn’t look to ISOLATE us but to INSULATE us from the world. Being a disciple of Jesus from Nazareth does not mean we are above anything or anyone. It means that we are in the midst of everything and everyone.
The tragedy of the modern church we see in social media and the news is that Jesus’ plan for bringing the gospel into the culture has been turned around. Too many of God’s committed people are of the world but not in the world, as opposed to being in the world but not of the world. The culture has both grabbed them and intimidated them. They are ‘of’ the world because they have been lured by it and have assimilated its values. They are no longer ‘in’ the world since they have given in to social segregation.

Too many churches have this issue. When I say “modern Christianity,” I mean that it has sold out to a Gutenberg culture while we live in a Google world. Modern Christianity is more “modern” than it is Christian. Most of the worship wars in churches today are not conflicts about preserving genuine Christianity but rather conflicts over preserving a dwindling Gutenberg culture and anxiety over a reawakening Google culture.

The other problem is that separation from the world is found in other churches that decide they are above everyone else. They’ve found what they wanted to fit their narrative and ignore the mission. They ignore What Jesus would do, how he’d do it, and whom he has invited to dinner. In other words, they’ve created a church that would probably crucify him all over again.

Where are you going to stand? In it? Above it? Out of it? Let’s go through some questions; in the comments, I want to hear from each of you. This is a test. When I ask you these questions, don’t think about whether you are actually performing things; instead, solely consider your deepest aspirations. In other words, I want the “how” answer rather than the “what” one; I don’t want the “WWJD” response. Your performance doesn’t concern me as much as your desires do. Do you want to be “in” it rather than “of it” or “out of it”?
Are you ready? Too back, my fuckers, we’re off!
“*Would you like to be remembered as a generous person who was open and friendly to any human being you encountered, regardless of race, religious belief, political leanings, or social class?
*Would you like to be remembered as a compassionate and caring person?
*Would you like to be remembered as a person of transparent integrity whose words and actions were always in harmony?
*Would you like to be remembered as someone who always gave encouragement, hope, and life wherever you happened to be?
*Would you like to be remembered as someone who never bore grudges and was always ready to forgive, entirely free from any hint of self-importance or arrogance?
*Would you like to be remembered as someone who always delighted in sharing whatever you had and was never condescending?
*Would you like to be remembered as someone who knew what it was to hunger and thirst after righteousness, a person who worked on behalf of the oppressed and the marginalized?
*Would you like it to be said of you that ‘love possessed, inspired, and permeated every thought and every action?’”
Suppose your answer is ‘yes’ to all of these questions or even to most of them. In that case, your inner desires are in harmony with the will of God, and the Jesus Prayer of 2000 years ago is being answered in your life this morning.
If your answer is “yes” to these questions, you are ready to “GO”—to Go Forth to be “in” the world, not “of” the world but not “out of it” either.
Two-thirds of the word “GOD” is “GO”. . . so . . .
Make like a tree and get the fuck out of here! Love you, and talk at you next week!

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