It was a college town. It looks like four white walls of an attic and a boy singing about what it could look like when broken things finally make sense.
“Just wait, just wait!” He said, his right foot pressing on a black petal. His teeth bit down on a black guitar pick while his fingers strummed a tune that hurt and sounded hopeful.
And there it is: I’m a sucker for boys with tattoos who smoke cigarettes and sing about why they can’t stop.
He likes to build things and take personality tests and talks about all the things he wants for his future daughter. And Jesus. He talks about Jesus and all the ink marks on his body that are lessons learned; he wants to grow a ministry that reaches out much farther than just the back doors of a church building.
It was a college town, and it looks like the grey interior of a jeep and his hand in mine, while Canton looks like trying to figure out what happened in the hour and a half drive made between the goodnight kisses that wouldn’t stop and the silence that showed up the next morning. It was the city I barely knew and the boy I knew even less about.
But I did know him.
Hadn’t I seen parts of him in the high school kids who had walked into the coffee shop all those nights when I was seventeen when a friend of mine had started leading a Bible study at the town hall across the street? Their chacos strapped on tight and their Bibles and notebooks pulled close against their chests as they ordered black coffee.
Hadn’t I seen parts of him in the prom queen who had gone to Costa Rica for a year to serve the Lord and the community?
Hadn’t I even seen the concept of him in the kids who had been picked on in high school yet now found acceptance during their college years thanks to hipsterdom? They had always been quirky and creative and different, and now everyone is trying to be just that.
Spirituality has become a culture.
We have taken this pure and beautiful idea of a God coming down to blamelessly die a most horrific death for those who condemned Him only to arise out of that death to give those same people power and new life— we have turned this idea into a means of merely getting us ahead in our social lives.
Where I come from, the coolest kid isn’t the football star or the baseball pitcher or the cheerleading captain or even the cute guy with the fast car; the coolest kid is the one who loves Jesus the loudest. We are told to be in the world, not of it; to love the people in it, but not look like those we love. Instead, we’ve ended up just trying to one up each other. Christianity has become a trend just as much as Sperry shoes were, and we are all trying to be the one who wears it best.
And we look good.
I’ve met boys who stand on a stage, raise their hands, sing at the top of their lungs to Jesus, and make girls fall in love with them just so that they can tell them they “don’t really know what they want.” I’ve met girls who lead Bible studies and make boys fall in love with their hearts that bleed for mission just to cheat on their boyfriends and not tell anyone about it. And if we’re really going to drop the mic on this new idea that Jesus is our way to fame, then I won’t deny that I know how to play this game well, too. I, too, have been the Bible verse tweeter with monsters in her closet, and let me tell you: it is a hard game to play.
So now my girl friends date boys who don’t love Jesus. They stretch their values and brag on these men that won’t lead them down the aisle to Christ but yet will claim them and cook dinner for them; they go to church without the man who knows nothing about loving them like Christ loves the church yet step up to the plate and lets them know that they are wanted; they settle for “He’s a good guy” in place of “He loves the Lord and loves me” because for some reason it has become easy to love the Lord and hard to love each other.
We think that since the Bible does not tell us “Thou shall not play games with girls,” it isn’t a sin. We are convicted when we drink, experiment with drugs, have premarital sex, lie– but where is the conviction in how we handle each others’ hearts in relationships? In the midst of trying to look like we mean it, we see how much we do not look like Jesus.
So let’s take a step down from our stages and away from the mic; let’s fly back from the foreign countries and get off Twitter; let’s reach a little deeper into this lifestyle we use to feel loved and start loving others more than ourselves; let’s be more than hand-raisers and singers and preachers and bible study leaders; let’s be used by Him and stop using Him.
Loving Jesus isn’t supposed to make you look cool; loving Jesus is supposed to make you an outcast.