The Hipness of Jesus Christ: Why the God of Christianity is Cool in Modern Culture

Jesus is not my “homeboy”, but He is pretty cool.

It seems that while growing up in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, the name of Jesus wasn’t really common (or acceptable) in mainstream entertainment.  Maybe it’s the fact that we as a nation are more aware now of the infiltration of different religions such as Islam in recent years, so we’re becoming more outspoken about Jesus than we used to be.  Because if we still are indeed a “Christian nation”, it’s Jesus we would need to be down with.

I do believe that the name of Jesus will always be offensive in the sense that He is the main factor that separates Christians (Protestants, Catholics, Messianic Jews, etc.) from other religions, including Judaism, as well as distinguishing those who simply “believe in God or a higher power” (theists).  However, I believe we are at a point in history and culture where “Jesus awareness” is at an all time high.

From Carrie Underwood’s 2005 number one hit, “Jesus, Take the Wheel”, to Kanye West’s 2004 hit “Jesus Walks”, which only peaked at #11, but saw great commercial and critical success, to Mel Gibson’s (yes, he has gone crazy since then) 2004 movie, The Passion of the Christ, which become the 8th highest grossing movie of all time (at the time), the highest grossing R-rated movie ever, and the highest grossing non-English movie ever, America continues to prove that even in our desired choices of entertainment, Jesus is in demand.

Whether or not the average American truly believes and trusts that Jesus is the Son of God, it’s safe to say that the average American has at least a basic understanding that Jesus was put to death on a cross to redeem the sins of mankind, past and present.  And that He came back to life three days later.  And that during his lifetime, He performed all kinds of miracles, like walking on water, healing blind men, speaking dead people into existence, and feeding thousands of people from just a couple fish and loaves of bread.  Whether or not the average American believes all this to literally be true, they at least are familiar with these basic concepts.

Even if to the average skeptic, Jesus is nothing more than a respectable movie character played by forgettable non-Jewish actors with blue eyes, this black sheep of the Jews ultimately puts us all in a position to whether we have to either recognize Him as the savior of mankind, or dismiss Him as either a good intention or completely irrelevant to life.  Either Jesus is who He said He is (God), or He’s not.  Either we associate Him with the meaning of life and the afterlife, or we don’t.  And especially in modern America, we have so been made aware of who He is at this point; it’s just a matter of what we do with that knowledge.

I’ve thought about it, and honestly, even apart from the fact I truly believe Christianity is the answer to all our “meaning of life questions”, and that out of all the religions, it’s Christianity that is the “right one” for me (because let’s face it, out of all the religions in the world, only one can be right in the end when we die, so it’s important to pick one and stick with it while we’re still alive), apart from all that, even if I wasn’t a Christian, I still would vote Jesus as the “coolest god”.

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (not a man) and a virgin.  Right off, that’s so scientifically impossible.  So I like it.  He never sinned; which is spiritually impossible.  I like that too.  His first miracle was turning water into wine at a really nice wedding. Cool.  He instantly stopped a really bad storm out at sea by saying, “peace, be still”.  The fact that Jesus went against the rules of nature is a major selling point for me.

Jesus came in the form of a Jewish man, who pretty much was a hippie type, who rebelled against the established religious culture of His day, challenging them to show their love for God to be authentic by taking care of the poor, the widowed, the unloved, and the sinners.

And based on the unproportionally high number of popular American Jewish actors and writers who we make rich in the name of entertainment, and based on the fact that just as many Jews who actually live in Israel who live in America (both Israel and America each contain about 40% of the world’s Jewish population), I’d say we Americans are known for embracing the Jews, whereas so many nations throughout history have rejected (understatement) them instead.

According to Christian belief, Jesus Christ is coming back to Earth to set up His millennial kingdom, in which all of us who believed in Him get to be a part of.  The way I see it, Jesus is not only the real deal; He just happens to be pretty cool too. But at the end of the day (and our lives), we will have made it clear through our words and actions just how relevant Jesus is to us personally.  And no matter how hip or popular (or uncool or unpopular) He may seem, we still choose in this life how important He is to us, for eternity.

“1985 I missed a plane, which then disappeared, never seen again.  You came to me Jesus, stood right in my way. You flew down from Heaven to save me again. Hallelujah, hallelujah.” -excerpt from “Stay with Me, Jesus” by Guster


Unnecessary Bonus…

Classic Books that Americans Love which were Written by Jewish Authors:




Advertisements

America the Christian Nation: Are We Using God’s Name in Vain by Having “In God We Trust” on Our Money?

 

If a person has to say “I’m the boss” or proclaim that they are the one in charge, then it’s pretty obvious they are not. People naturally follow the real leader of the group by instinct. Followers ignore the sirens and the megaphones and the buzzers, and instead pay attention to the high pitch dog whistle. There’s no way around a natural leader rounding up his followers.

In the past year especially, there have been some ruffled feathers regarding comments made about our country no longer being a “Christian nation”. Is it true, is it not true? The fact is this: It’s not a matter of any one person making that decision… It’s up to those who are Christians and the true influence they have on those around them.

I can’t help but be intrigued by China. They are known as a Communist/atheist nation having less than 1% of the population professing to be Christians, but a common belief among many missionary circles is that there are just as many Christians in China as they are in America, due to China’s huge population and rapidly growing “underground Christian church” movement in recent years. Many missionaries also predict that within 20 years, Christianity will be the most popular religion in India. Aside from vague statistics and educated predictions, the bottom line is this: The government can not decide or label the official religion of a country- but its people do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Christians_in_the_world.png

The pastor of my church has mentioned that in the past several years as more courthouses, schools, city halls, and other government buildings have removed the Ten Commandments, he has been approached by people trying to recruit him to participate in a march protesting the event. His response is always the same to the fired-up believer: “If you can name all Ten Commandments I’ll be glad to join you.” My pastor has yeet to have to join a protest.

Despite government buildings no longer displaying the Ten Commandments, despite each state’s own interpretation of the term “marriage”, despite public schools banning prayer in school, I can’t help but say to myself, “so what?”

A person living an immoral lifestyle which is contrary to the Bible won’t be helped by the courthouse letting them catch a glimpse of the Ten Commandments as they’re being led into their incriminating court case. Nor does it necessarily cause a judge to rule a case in a “more conservative Christian” way. The Bible and the Ten Commandments it contains are not magic relics that within themselves make the world a safer, more spiritual place.

A person has to actually read, study, and apply these teachings to their personal lives. And for that to happen, it often involves parents teaching the importance and relevance of them in the home and instilling those values in children who will make them essential in their adult lives. The reading of the Bible in the home is the key, not the reading of it in a public government building.

From the very first few chapters of the Bible, God Himself ordains the first marriage between Adam and Eve. But as it’s portrayed, marriage is a spiritual union, not a governmental one. Marriage does provide economic and legalistic benefits, but the Bible doesn’t paint marriage as simply a legal contract between a man and woman, it is a holy covenant between a man and a woman. That goes beyond what a government can even touch. No matter how a government recognizes it, marriage actually is what the Bible says it is, not changed by a nation’s laws. It’s the matter of governmental recognition of marriage that people tend to get emotional about.

As for prayer in schools, I agree with the bumper sticker: “As long as there are tests, there will always be prayer in schools.” Our modern nation was largely formed when Europeans fled their countries to escape a government which tied religious customs into the law. (I watched The Patriot with Mel Gibson.) While many of our heroic forefathers were Christians, they made a point to write the law so that no one religion would dominate the way our country is governed. It was only a matter of time that other major religions (Islam, Hinduism, atheism, etc.) would notice how Christianized schools and courts had become on the outside and want to celebrate their own beliefs instead, without being limited by the openly Christian culture infused into the government.

So take it all away on the outside. Does it actually change what’s on the inside? China has proven that even in the event the government makes the Bible illegal and Christianity punishable by death, Christianity still spreads and continues to grow.

Still, I have to admit I found comfort in the fact that “In God We Trust” is printed and/or engraved on our money. This practice was originally put into effect because of the popular demand of the American public as a way to counter the godlessness felt during the Civil War, then made into the official national motto by President Eisenhower as a stand against the Cold War. Like many people, I simply feel better having the motto on our currency.

But in the unthinkable event that in the near future the motto is removed, there is the other side of the coin (inevitable pun). There’s President Roosevelt’s perspective which he revealed in a letter to William Boldly in 1907:

“My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege.”

He’s got a point. Going back to the Ten Commandments, we are told not to use God’s name in vain. Money is about as vain as it gets. The same cash spent on illegal drugs and prostitution by people who don’t know God, actually proclaims that they trust in God. Ironic? Little bit.

Who gets to decide whether or not we are a Christian nation? And which source should we pay attention to? Members of our govern-ment? National statistics? Or the actual influence of Christians in the country?

Stories in the Old Testament tell of God completely wiping out entire countries or handing them over to slavery because they as a nation were corrupt and had forsaken Him. Is that our true fear? The security blankets we mesh into our government don’t change the true spiritual condition of our own individual lives. And from everything I’ve read in the New Testament concerning how Jesus’ death and return back to life changed the Old Testament law, it looks like God is more concerned about our personal relationship with him that what our national religious status is.

We attribute so much of the nation’s success or failure to its collective relationship with God, but I have a feeling our God is much more personal than that. He looks beyond invisible borders that people fought and died to expand and name as their own land, and reaches into the lives of those who allow Him.